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UMTED STATES ARMY W WORLD WAR II 

The Technical Services 

THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS: 
CONSTRUCTION IN THE 
UNITED STATES 





CENTER OF MILITARY HISTORY 
UNITED STA TES ARMY 
WASHINGTON, D C , 1989 



Number: 79-610220 



Fi rst Printed 1972 -CMH Pub 10-5 

For Sate by (he Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office 
Washings, DC 20402 



UNITED STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II 



Committee 

(A* of 15 March 1971) 



Walter C. Langsam 
Jniversity of Cindrma 

Charles B. Burdick 



Richard W. Leopold 
Northwestern University 

Louis Morton 



Forrest C. Pogue 



Maj, Gen. Edward Bautz, Jr. 
U.S. Continental Army Command 

Brig. Gen. James M. Gibson 
U.S. Army Command and General 
Staff College 

Brig. Gen. Wallace C. Magathan, Jr. 
U.S. Army War College 

Col. Thomas E. Griess 



C. Marshall Research Foundation United States Military Academy 
Frank E. Vandiver 



Office of the Chief of Military Hiitory 
Brig. Gen. James L. Collins, Jr., Chief of Military History 

Chief Historian Maurice Matloff 

Chief, Histories Division Col, John E. Jessup, Jr. 

Editor in Chief Joseph R. Friedman 



iii 



. to Those Who Served 



Foreword 



In World War II the Corps of Engineers superintended the largest con- 
struction program in the nation's history, providing the home base for a 
United States Army that grew to more than eight million men and women. 
The Corps-related construction work included development of the facilities for 
making atomic bombs. In telling the story of these herculean efforts the 
authors set unprecedented standards: no detailed and scholarly history on 
the subject of construction has ever before been undertaken in this country. 

Other aspects of the domestic contributions of the Army Engineers in 
the war have been covered in the first volume of this subseries to be pub- 
lished, Troops and Equipment, and a second told the story of the Engineer 
effort overseas in the war against Japan. A final volume still in preparation 
will relate the activities of Engineers in the Mediterranean area and Europe 
in the war against Italy and Germany. 

While this volume presents the story of military construction during the 
war primarily from the point of view of the Corps of Engineers as revealed 
in its records and by its participants, it does justice also to the work of the 
Quartermaster Corps from which the Engineers inherited responsibility 
for military construction in the United States in 1940 and 1941. This book 
should be welcomed by both the thoughtful citizen and the military student 
for its readability as well as for its instructive value in describing with 
authority a variety of activities that collectively were a significant foundation 
of victory in America's most gigantic conflict. 

Washington, D.C. JAMES L. COLLINS, JR. 

1 5 April 1 97 1 Brigadier General, US A 

Chief of Military History 



vii 



The Authors 



Lenore Fine, a member of the Engineer Historical Division since 1945, 
has an A.B. degree from Goucher College and an M.L.A. degree from The 
Johns Hopkins University. She has done additional graduate work in history 
at the latter institution. 

Jesse A. Remington, who holds a Ph.D. degree from the University 
of Maryland, joined the Engineer Historical Division in 1947 and has been 
chief historian since 1958. During World War II, he served in the Historical 
Section, Headquarters, China Theater. 



viii 



Preface 



A vast homefront construction effort by the U.S. Army undergirded 
mobilization and combat in World War II. Started by the Quartermaster 
Corps and carried to completion by the Corps of Engineers, this building 
program embraced more than 27,000 projects, l arge and small, a nd cost 
$15.3 billion, roughly $59 billion in 1970 prices. |(See Appendix.)| Among 
its major features were camps and cantonments to house 5.3 million troops; 
plants to mass-produce explosives, ammunition, tanks, and planes; hospitals 
providing nearly half a million beds; a huge network of ports and depots; 
improvements to principal waterways and flood protection for vital industries; 
bomber bases which entailed a whole new technology; the mammoth Penta- 
gon Building; and facilities for the epochal Manhattan Project. Our book is 
a history of this undertaking. 

It is also a history of people: of military leaders and their staffs; of civilian 
engineers, contractors, suppliers, and equipment dealers; of dollar-a-year 
men and expert consultants; of industrialists and union organizers; of states- 
men and politicians; of patriots and profiteers; and of the faceless multitude — 
workers, GI's, small businessmen, dispossessed property owners, and citizens 
of every stripe who participated in or felt the impact of the program. Through- 
out we have tried to show how individuals and groups influenced events. 

Ostensibly a diffuse technical subject, an untempting prospect for his- 
torians, construction proved a rewarding field of inquiry. High-level planning, 
site selection, land acquisition, engineering design, contractual arrangements, 
procurement methods, labor relations, and day-to-day operations in the 
field — all were illuminating studies. Gradually a story emerged of public 
indifference and military myopia, of unprecedented challenges and initial 
unpreparedness, of cruel disappointments and serious mistakes, of remedial 
measures and sweeping reorganizations, and of prodigious efforts and crown- 
ing success. Because many World War II developments had their roots in 
World War I and the two decades that followed, the narrative begins in 1917 
and, more or less following a chronological scheme, proceeds through eighteen 
chapters to August 1945. The final chapters discuss two extraordinary 
achievements — airfields for heavy bombers and the atomic bomb. 

We are deeply grateful to all those persons who aided in the preparation 
of this volume. Special thanks are owing to our past and present colleagues 
in the Engineer Historical Division whose advice and assistance eased our 
task. Dr. O. J. Clinard, who launched us on the undertaking, was a source 

ix 



of inspiration and encouragement. Dr. Karl C. Dod offered many valuable 
comments and suggestions. Miss Dorothe M. Grand gave us the benefit of 
her discriminating editorial judgment. Mr. Eugene V. Mc Andrews was a 
thoughtful critic. Miss Blanche D. Coll did research and drafted sections on 
labor relations; Miss G. Louise Marr, on real estate. A study of the Man- 
hattan Engineer District by Dr. Ralph F. Weld provided the groundwork 
for Chapter XX. Many participants, nearly all of whom are named in the 
volume, gave generously of their time and knowledge, helping to illuminate 
the written record and correcting factual errors. We are particularly grateful 
to the officers who read and commented upon the entire manuscript: Lt. 
Gen. Leslie R. Groves; Maj. Gen. John R. Hardin; Lt. Gen. Eugene Reybold; 
Col. Lloyd C. Ritchie; Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr. ; and Lt. Gen. Walter 
K. Wilson, Jr. To Generals Groves and Sturgis, who worked closely with us 
for many years, our debt is exceptionally heavy. Mr. Thomas B. Pringle and 
Mr. Harry B. Zackrison were invaluable advisers on technical subjects. 

General acknowledgments are due to Mrs. Lois Aldridge, Mrs. Virginia 
M. Nester, Mrs. Mary K. Stuart, Mr. John E. Taylor, and Mrs. Mae E. 
Walker, whose archival assistance was indispensable; to Miss Agnes M. 
Dutkevich and Mrs. Ruth E. Steers, who typed the final draft of the manu- 
script and verified quotations and names; and to Mr. Robert L. Collins, Jr., 
who did artwork for maps and charts. 

We are also obliged to members of the Office of the Chief of Military 
History, especially to Dr. Stetson Conn, Chief Historian, and Mr. Joseph R. 
Friedman, Editor in Chief, for their practical advice and constructive criti- 
cism. Mr. David Jaffe, Chief of the Editorial Branch, demonstrated rare 
skill and admirable diplomacy in the final editing. Mrs. Marion P. Grimes 
was the copy editor. Mrs. Muriel Southwick prepared the index. 

Finally, we wish to express our warm appreciation to Mr. Robert W. 
Blakeley, Lt. Col. Frank E. Burk, Brig. Gen. Curtis W. Chapman, Jr., Mr, 
Logan O. Cowgill, Brig. Gen. Ira A. Hunt, Jr., Mr. August J. Karasek, 
Mrs. Bessie S. Rubin, and all the other members of the Engineer family who 
effectively supported our effort. 

For the facts presented and the conclusions drawn in this volume, the 
authors alone are responsible. 

Baltimore, Maryland LENORE FINE 

15 April 1971 JESSE A. REMINGTON 



x 



Contents 



Chapter Page 

I. LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 3 

A Backward Glance ............. 3 

Mobilization: 1917 7 

Centralization 18 

Congress Investigates 26 

The Compromise of 1920 32 

II. LEAN YEARS 42 

The Construction Service, 1920-1938 43 

Preparedness and Public Works 56 

Mobilization Plans 65 

III. COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 74 

The Expansion Program 74 

The Quest for Funds 77 

Questions of Responsibility 84 

Quartermaster Plans and Preparations ......... 93 

Construction Gets Under Way 100 

The Period of the Phony War . 108 

IV. FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION Ill 

The Defense Program Ill 

Early Preparations 115 

Creating an Organization 123 

Site Selection 130 

Mounting Pressure 143 

V. LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 152 

Policies and Policymakers 1 55 

Engineering 162 

Real Estate 174 

Selecting Contractors 184 

Negotiating Contracts 192 



xi 



Chapter Page 

VI. THE FIRST CAMPS 198 

The Administrative Setup 201 

Preliminary Work at Camp Sites 205 

Lumber and Other Materials 213 

Construction Equipment 218 

Labor 220 

Management and Supervision 23 1 

Nearing the Goal 239 

VII. THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 244 

The Engineers' Predicament 244 

Growth of the Engineer Mission 246 

A Separate Corps? 252 

Reorganization and Restating 259 

Transfer of Air Corps Construction 267 

VIII. COMPLETING THE CAMPS 273 

The Deficit Problem 273 

Additional Funds 276 

Winter Construction 280 

Closing Out Contracts . 397 

Maintenance and Operation 302 

IX. CREATING A MUNITIONS INDUSTRY 309 

Status of the Program — December 1940 310 

Dollars Versus Days 313 

Demands for Greater Speed 321 

The Steel Shortage 327 

Completing the First-Wave Plants 335 

X. PLANNING AHEAD 342 

Advance Planning — Camps and Cantonments 342 

A New Approach — Munitions Projects 354 

A Stronger Organization 363 

The Building Trades Agreement 366 

XI. THE PUBLIC IMAGE 372 

Publicity and Public Relations 373 

Congressman Engel Investigates 378 

House and Senate Committee Investigations 381 



xii 



Chapter Page 

XII. REAL ESTATE: A FRESH DEPARTURE 393 

The Case of the Brokerage Contracts 393 

Changes in Organization and Procedures 401 

XIII. TOWARD A FOUR-MILLION-MAN ARMY 408 

Budgetary Politics 408 

Contractual Refinements and Reforms 419 

The Pentagon Project 431 

XIV. THE TRANSFER 440 

A Test for the Engineers 440 

Reaching a Decision 460 

The "Madigan Bill" 467 

Consolidation 472 

XV. THE IMPACT OF WAR 477 

The All-Out Program 477 

The War Construction Command 485 

The Big Push 499 

Peak Construction 519 

XVI. THE MATERIALS BATTLE 522 

Bare Essentials 522 

Procurement Problems 536 

Lumber Crisis 545 

The Last Ounce 553 

XVII. WARTIME CONTRACTS 562 

Cost-Plus- A-Fixed-Fee 563 

Modified Fixed-Price 569 

Competition and Negotiation 573 

Renegotiation 577 

XVIII. CUTBACK AND CONTINUATION 586 

Curtailment 586 

Topping Out 593 

Late Programs 603 

XIX. AIRFIELDS FOR VERY HEAVY BOMBERS 614 

The Technological Barrier 614 

Breakthrough and Advance, 1942-1944 623 

New Horizons 644 

xiii 



Chapter Page 

XX. ATOMIC MISSION 650 

MED: Origins and Early Efforts 651 

Clinton and Hanford 668 

Zia 693 

APPENDIX— ARMY CONSTRUCTION IN THE CONTINENTAL 

UNITED STATES, 1 JULY 1940-31 AUGUST 1945 . 703 

BIBLIOGRAPHICAL NOTE 704 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 710 

INDEX 719 

Tables 

No. 

1. National Army Cantonments, 1917 16 

2. National Guard Camps, 1917 16 

3. Appropriations for Maintenance and Repairs 54 

4. Construction Workers in the United States, June 1940 121 

5. Schedule of Minimum Fees for Construction Services 1 95 

6. Schedule of Average Fees for Architect-Engineer Services 1 96 

7. Schedule for Housing National Guard Divisions 1 99 

8. Revised Induction Schedule for Fall 1940 Quota of Selectees .... 200 

9. Reserve Officers on Active Duty With Construction Division, 1 3 Decem- 

ber 1940 204 

10. Number of Persons Employed on Projects Under Jurisdiction of Con- 

struction Division, OQMG, July-December 1 940 222 

11. Cost of Air Corps Projects 271 

12. Summary of Quartermaster Projects Completed and Under Way, 5 

December 1941 417 

13. Revised Schedule of Fees for Architect-Engineer and Construction 

Services, 23 June 1941 424 

14. Division Engineer Service Command Assignments 497 

15. Status of Projects, 15-31 March 1942 511 

16. Hospital Cost Estimates 529 

17. Breakdown of Delaying Factors, 31 May-31 October 1942 .... 537 

18. Lumber Purchased by CPA, 1942-1945 553 

1 9. Variations in Barracks Capacity 558 

20. Unfinished Construction, January 1944 607 

xiv 



Charts 



No. Page 

1. Organization of Construction Division of the Army, April-November 

1918 22 

2. Volume of New Construction in the United States, 1925-1939 ... 120 

3. Organization of Construction Division, OQMG, June-November 1940 124 

4. Organization of Engineering Branch, Construction Division, OQMG, 

September 1940 164 

5. Organization of Fixed Fee Branch, Construction Division, OQMG, 

November 1940 202 

6. Organization of Construction Division, OQMG, 1 6 December 1 940 . . 261 

7. Organization of Office of Assistant Chief of Engineers, December 1940. . 269 

8. Organization of Operations Branch, Construction Division, OQMG, 

January to March 1941 281 

9. Rate of National Guard Inductions 296 

10. Rate of Selective Service Inductions 296 

11. Progressive Improvements in Divisional Cantonment Layouts . . . 352 

1 2. Value of Work Placed by Month on Quartermaster Construction Program, 

1 July 1940 to 30 November 1941 416 

13. Comparison of Costs — Quartermaster Construction Program, 1 April to 

15 December 1941 418 

14. Organization of Defense Projects Branch, Construction Section, OCE, 

April 1941 442 

1 5. Construction by the Corps of Engineers at Air Corps Stations — U.S. Army 458 

1 6. Position of Corps of Engineers in War Department After 9 March 1 942 . 492 

1 7. Organization of Construction Division, OCE, April 1 942 494 

18. Value of Work in Place, Monthly Additions 520 

19. Organization of Engineering Branch, Construction Division, OCE, 

Spring 1942 524 

20. Dollar Value of Work Placed During 1943 599 

21. Field Employment During 1943 599 

22. Organization of Military Construction, Civil Works, and Real Estate 

Divisions, OCE, December 1943 604 

23. Value of Work Placed on War Construction Program, Continental 

United States, June 1940-August 1945 606 

24. Tentative Design Curves for Flexible Airfield Pavements 627 

25. Design Storm Index 634 

26. Wheel Loads as Columns of Concrete 3 Feet 8 Inches in Diameter . . . 646 

27. Organization of Manhattan Engineer District, April 1 943 .... 678 



xv 



Maps 



No. Page 

1. Inland Zone and Five Strategic Areas 136 

2. Quartermaster Construction Zones 264 

3. Boundaries of Engineer Divisions, December 1942 498 

4. Clinton Engineer Works 670 

5. Hanford Engineer Works 675 



Illustrations 

Camp Custer, Michigan 13 

Tents at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, 1917 15 

Barracks and Lavatories, Camp Dix, New Jersey 17 

Brig. Gen. Richard C. Marshall 21 

Old Hickory Powder Plant, Tennessee 26 

Chanute Field, Illinois, Showing Dilapidated Structures 47 

Post Chapel, Randolph Field, Texas 49 

Officers' Club, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 50 

Camp on Levee, Arkansas City, Arkansas, During 1 927 Flood 57 

Col. Charles D. Hartman 69 

USS Houston Passing Through Panama Canal 78 

Barracks Burning at Hickam Field After Japanese Attack 85 

Maj. Gen. Julian L. Schley 88 

Maj. Gen. Edmund B. Gregory 93 

Equipment Arriving at Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico 1 05 

Maj. Gen. Richard C. Moore 108 

Ferdinand J. C. Dresser, Forrest S. Harvey, and Francis Blossom .... 126 

Barksdale Field, Louisiana, in Late 1930's 132 

Excavation at Fort Devens, Massachusetts 142 

Robert P. Patterson 144 

Harry W. Loving 147 

Capt. Leslie R. Groves 158 

Michael J. Madigan 159 

Frank E. Lamphere 163 

Mess Hall, Camp Grant, Illinois 1 69 

Hangar Construction, MacDill Field, Florida 1 70 

Site of Plum Brook Ordnance Works, Ohio 1 79 

Cantonment Construction, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts 197 

Clearing Swamps at Camp Blanding, Florida 206 

Railroad Bridge Over Big Piney River, Camp Leonard Wood, Missouri . . 208 

xvi 



Page 

Camp San Luis Obispo, California 210 

Building Barracks, Camp Leonard Wood, Missouri 232 

Prefabricating Yard and Sawmill, Camp Blanding, Florida 234 

Standard Chapel, Exterior View 237 

Standard Chapel, Interior View 239 

Bonneville Dam 245 

Col. Brehon B. Somervell 256 

Col. Wilhelm D. Styer 262 

Maj. Clinton F. Robinson 262 

Col. Edmund H. Leavey . 262 

Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Robins 268 

Camp San Luis Obispo After Heavy Downpour 283 

Pouring Concrete in Subzero Weather, Pine Camp, New York 284 

Camp Blanding, Florida, Late November 1940 292 

Men of the 29th Division at Camp Meade, Maryland . 294 

Barnes General Hospital, Vancouver, Washington 295 

Spillway Under Construction, Camp San Luis Obispo 299 

Aerial View of Camp Jackson, S.C 303 

Frank R. Creedon 313 

Construction at Indiana Ordnance Works, 1940 315 

General Grant (M3) Rolls Off Assembly Line 320 

Night Shift at Work, St. Louis Ordnance Plant 326 

Constructing Standard Igloo Magazine 334 

Somervell Addressing Construction Force 337 

Morgantown Ordnance Works, West Virginia 340 

Experimental Steel Barracks 345 

Lake City Ordnance Plant, Missouri 359 

James P. Mitchell 367 

Flag Raising at Radford Ordnance Works, Virginia 375 

Fitzpatrick Cartoon on Senator Truman 386 

John J. O'Brien 402 

Pentagon Building, Main Entrance 432 

Cartoonist's View of Controversy over Pentagon Site 436 

Concrete Drainage Culvert at Brookley Field, Alabama 445 

Paving Runway, Lowry Field, Colorado 446 

Bradley Field, Windsor Locks, Connecticut 449 

Fort Worth Aircraft Assembly Plant, Texas 459 

Maj. Gen. Eugene Reybold 465 

Transfer Proposal Approved by the President 466 

Hutments, Fort Sill, Oklahoma, July 1942 483 

Maj. Gen. John R. Hardin 487 

Col. Samuel D. Sturgis, Jr 504 

Pentagon Under Construction 512 

xvii 



Page 

Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Heart Mountain, Wyoming . . . . 515 

Brig. Gen. James H. Stratton 525 

Harry B. Zackrison 526 

Bachelor Officers' Quarters, Sioux Fails Army Air Force Base, South Dakota . 527 

Corbetta Beehive Magazine Under Construction 530 

Wood Truss Construction, Pennsylvania Ordnance Works 534 

Col. Fred G. Sherrill 545 

Airmen on Grounds of Stevens Hotel 557 

Double-Decker Bunks in Permanent Barracks, March Field, California . . 559 

Winter Construction at Mountain Home Air Base, Idaho 595 

HoLston Ordnance Works, Tennessee . 596 

Work in Progress on Tulsa Bomber Modification Center 597 

Conference at Stockton Test Track, California 630 

240,000-Pound Pneumatic Roller 647 

Brig. Gen. James C. Marshall . 651 

Col. Kenneth D. Nichols 653 

General Groves as Head of the Manhattan Project 661 

Mrs. Jean M. O'Leary 662 

Cemesto Houses on Black Oak Ridge 671 

Y-12, Electromagnetic Process Plant 685 

First Pile Area at Hanford, June 1944 688 

S-50, Thermal Diffusion Plant Under Construction 689 

K-25, Gaseous Diffusion Plant Nearing Completion 691 

Separation Building at Hanford, Summer 1944 692 

View of Los Alamos 699 



Illustrations are from the following sources: 

E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., Inc.: page 26. 

National Archives: pages 78, 108, 386, 515. 

AGC, Carolinas Branch: page 147. 

United Press International, Inc.: page 159. 

Charles T, Main, Inc.: page 197. 

Leeds, Hill and Jewett, Inc.: pages 283, 299. 

St. Louis Post-Dispatch: pages 326, 337. 

Library of Congress: page 436. 

Stone & Webster Engineering Corp. : pages 530, 534. 

J. A. Terteling & Sons, Inc. : page 595. 

Sverdrup & Parcel and Associates, Inc.: page 597. 

Atomic Energy Commission: pages 671, 685, 688, 689, 691, 692, 699. 

Other photographs came from Department of Defense files and through the 
courtesy of private individuals. 



xviii 



THE CORPS OF ENGINEERS: 
CONSTRUCTION IN THE 
UNITED STATES 



CHAPTER I 



Legacy of World War I 



Reviewing the lessons of World War 
II, Lt. Gen. Leslie R. Groves declared: 
"Mobilization was decisive and con- 
struction generally controlled mobiliza- 
tion." 1 In 1939, when hostilities began 
in Europe, the United States was ill 
prepared to counter threats to its se- 
curity. To be sure, the Navy, the first 
line of defense, ranked with Britain's 
mighty fleet. But the Army was barely 
more than a token force, and the country 
had virtually no munitions industry. 
Before the nation could realize its huge 
military potential, it had first to build 
a vast complex of camps, plants, air- 
fields, hospitals, and depots. As Presi- 
dential adviser Sidney Hillman pointed 
out in 1 941 : 

Construction is not only the biggest single 
part of defense, it is also the first step in de- 
fense. Before we can produce guns and planes 
and tanks, we must build defense plants or 
alter non-defense plants to new produc- 
tion .... Similarly, if we are to train 
our Army well, our soldiers must be provided 
with proper living conditions in camps and 
cantonments. 2 

Construction was the first major industry 
to attain large-scale defense and war 
production in World War II. A 15.6- 
billion-dollar Army construction effort 



1 Comments of Lt Gen Leslie R. Groves on MS, 
Construction in the United States, 1 955, I, 1 . Cited 
hereinafter as Groves Comments. 

> S Sp Comm Investigating the National Defense 
Program, 77th Cong, 1st sess, Hearings, Part 8, p. 
2493. Cited hereinafter as Truman Comm, Hearings. 



set the pace for mobilization and laid 
the foundations for victory. 

A Backward Glance 

The nation's early wars told a dif- 
ferent story. Before the 20th century, 
mobilization necessitated little con- 
struction. In the American Revolution, 
the War of 18 12, the Mexican War, and 
the Civil War, armies were raised by 
mustering small units, which went almost 
immediately on active service in the 
field. There, bivouacked in tents or 
sheltered in crude huts of their own de- 
sign, troops received such training as 
time permitted. In the Spanish- American 
War, regiments assembled at fairgrounds, 
race tracks, and armories and moved 
rapidly to tent cities at Chickamauga, 
Tampa, and other points in the South- 
east, whence they embarked for Cuba as 
soon as ships were available. For weap- 
ons and ammunition, the Continental 
Army relied on imports and on the 
products of small foundries, smithies, 
and the like. During the 19th century, 
American forces were armed and sup- 
plied with explosives by federal and 
state arsenals and by private manu- 
facturers, principally Remington, Win- 
chester, Colt, and DuPont. Until the age 
of modern mass armies, construction 
presented no serious wartime challenge. 

Throughout most of the country's 
history, responsibility for military con- 



4 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



struction was shared by various branches 
of the Army. At the outbreak of the 
Revolutionary War, Congress, following 
British and Colonial practice, assigned 
to the Chief Engineer the work of build- 
ing bridges, roads, and fortifications 
and to The Quartermaster General the 
task of quartering the Army. Thus it 
was established early that the Corps of 
Engineers would perform combat con- 
struction and the Quartermaster Corps 
would see to sheltering troops. The di- 
vision of authority did not end there. 
The Ordnance Department erected ar- 
senals; the Signal Corps, after its found- 
ing in 1863, built some of its own fa- 
cilities; and most of the other branches, 
at one time or another, also engaged in 
building work. Nevertheless, the two 
agencies most closely associated with 
military construction were the Quarter- 
master Corps and the Corps of Engineers. 

The Quartermaster Corps was a multi- 
functioned organization concerned with 
service and supply. Provision of trans- 
port, shelter, clothing, and equipage 
were its principal functions. In dis- 
charging his construction duties, The 
Quartermaster General over the years 
encountered little difficulty. A handful 
of small posts sufficed to house the Army 
in the early days of the Republic. As 
the westward movement gained mo- 
mentum, hundreds of garrisons were 
built on the frontier by the occupying 
troops. Most of these outposts were tiny 
and most were of rude design. In time 
many of them outlived their usefulness 
and were abandoned, but scores were 
retained as part of the regular establish- 
ment. At permanent stations, buildings 
of brick and stone gradually replaced 
the log and frame structures of earlier 



days. Utilities became more elaborate; 
and maintenance work assumed greater 
importance. From time to time, a large 
project cropped up, for example, the 
Jeffersonville Depot in Indiana and the 
quarters for the Hawaiian Division at 
Schofield Barracks. But the volume of 
work was never large. Between 1865 
and 1 goo Congress seldom authorized 
more than 150 new buildings a year.* 

Quartermasters General carried out 
construction with a minimum of or- 
ganization. In the Office of The Quarter- 
master General in Washington an officer 
or two and a few civilians took care of 
budgetary and other administrative mat- 
ters. Most officers on construction duty 
in the field were temporarily detailed 
from the line. Their work, in most in- 
stances, was supervised not by The 
Quartermaster General but by local 
and departmental commanders. In the 
early days, construction not performed 
by troops was usually accomplished 
under a system known variously as day 
labor, force account, or purchase and 
hire — an arrangement whereby the of- 
ficer in charge drew whatever plans 
were needed, purchased materials, hired 
workmen, and oversaw the, work. As 
time went on and structures became 
more elaborate, master builders entered 
the picture. By the 1850's the Quarter- 
master Corps had begun to utilize the 
services of contracting companies which 
were then springing up in cities. After 
1 86 1 contracts with such firms came 
under a law of that year which required 
advertising except when "public exi- 
gency" demanded immediate per- 



• Annual Reports of The Quartermaster General 
to the Secretary of War. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



5 



formance. By 1900 the Quartermaster 
Corps had constructed 120 permanent 
posts and stations with capacity for 
34,000 men. The largest of these instal- 
lations, Fort Riley, Kansas, could ac- 
commodate 1,300 troops; the smallest, 
Fort Ontario, New York, could house 
40. 4 With only a small amount of work 
to do, oriented toward supply rather 
than toward construction, composed 
largely of detailed officers, few of whom 
had any technical background, and 
forced to rely more and more on private 
builders, architects, and engineers, the 
Quartermaster Corps was unable to 
develop anything approaching the con- 
struction capability of the Corps of 
Engineers. 

A combat branch and a public works 
construction agency, the Corps of En- 
gineers was a unique organization. His- 
torically, June 1 6th, 1775, the date of 
the Corps' founding, was barely more 
significant than March 16th, 1802. On 
that day President Jefferson signed a 
bill providing for a Corps of Engineers — 
seven officers and ten cadets — to be 
stationed at West Point, New York, and 
to "constitute a military academy." 
Jefferson's main object was a national 
college of engineering, and he designed 
the new academy not to train officers 
of the line but to educate engineers for 
public service. The first engineering 
school in the United States, West Point 
was the leading one until the Civil War. 
The Army Corps of Engineers, com- 



*(i) Ibid. (a) Testimony of Maj Gen Edmund B. 
Gregory, TQMG, 30 Sep 41. In H Comm on Mil 
Affi, 77th Cong, 1st sew, Hearings on H R 5630, 
p. 82. (3) ia Stat. 230. (4) Statement by OQMG, 
13 Nov 1900, sub: Capacity of Posts. Doc 15837 
OQMG Doc File, 1 800-1914. 



posed almost exclusively of top academy 
graduates, was the only sizable group of 
trained engineers in the country. As the 
demand for internal improvements rose 
and federal projects multiplied, the 
government turned to the Engineers. 
Rivers and harbors improvements, sur- 
veys and explorations, roads, canals, 
lighthouses, and public buildings — the 
Corps 1 responsibilities came to encompass 
all of these. By the time the civil en- 
gineering profession came of age in 
America, the Corps' role in civil works 
construction was firmly established. 

Peacetime construction experience, 
plus first-rate technical education, fitted 
Engineer officers for wartime combat, 
logistical, and command assignments. 
West Point Engineers, who after gradua- 
tion had gone on to build seacoast de- 
fenses, made a brilliant record in the 
War of 1 81 2. Not one fortification de- 
signed by them fell to the enemy. His- 
torian Henry Adams wrote of their 
performance: "Perhaps without exag- 
geration the West Point Academy might 
be said to have decided, next to the 
Navy, the result of the war." Adams 
credited West Point Engineers with 
doubling the Army's capacity for resis- 
tance during the campaign of 1814.* 
The Corps' experience in organizing 
sizable labor forces and in directing 
large construction enterprises was of 
great importance in later wars. Not only 
did Engineer officers perform the tra- 
ditional duties of military engineers — 
impeding enemy advances and assisting 
movements of friendly troops — but they 



•Henry Adams, A History of the United States of 
America, 1930 ed. (New York: Albert and Charles 
Boni, 1930), IX, 336. 



6 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



also occupied high staff and command 
positions. In the Civil War the Army's 
top logistician was an Engineer: 
Montgomery C. Meigs; Robert E. Lee 
epitomized the Engineer commander. 
The defenses around Washington, the 
crossings of the Rappahannock under 
fire, and the bridging of the James ex- 
emplified the Engineer support of the 
Union Army. By employing the Corps 
in time of peace, the government con- 
tinued to assure that competent military 
engineers would be available in the 
event of war. 

As time went on, as the westward 
movement accelerated and the country 
grew, the construction capability of the 
Corps of Engineers was enhanced. Al- 
though control of West Point passed to 
the Army-at-large in 1866, engineering 
and mathematics continued to form the 
core of its curriculum, and its top gradu- 
ates consistently chose careers in the 
branch that offered superior opportuni- 
ties for public service. To supplement 
the West Point education of Engineer 
officers, the Engineer School was founded 
at Willet's Point, New York, in 1885. 
Meanwhile, during the great expansion 
following Appomattox, Congress focused 
greater attention on internal improve- 
ments, and civil works programs bulked 
large. From 1866 through 1900, federal 
expenditures for rivers, harbors, and flood 
control totaled $333 million. During 
this period, a permanent, nationwide 
organization came into being. In 1888 
the need for a formal field structure led 
the Chief of Engineers, Brig. Gen. 
Thomas L. Casey, to remake the En- 
gineer Department by creating five 
divisions— one west and four east of the 
Rocky Mountains. Later more divisions 
were added and districts, or subdivisions, 



were established. 6 At the turn of the 
century, the Army Engineers had a con- 
struction organization that was by far 
the largest, best trained, and most ex- 
perienced in the country. 

By the early 1 goo's, sentiment was 
growing in favor of placing all military 
construction under the Engineers. At 
the time the General Staff was con- 
stituted, such a change was considered 
but was not effected.' The question came 
up again and again. In igio a high- 
ranking proponent of the Engineers ex- 
plained his position: 

It may, I believe, be asserted without fear 
of challenge that construction work in the 
army under present conditions leaves much 
to be desired. . . . Construction re- 
quires technical knowledge of a high order. 
Such knowledge is possessed by only a small 
percentage of the officers of the Quarter- 
master's Department, while in the Corps of 
Engineers every officer receives special train- 
ing along those lines. 8 

Maj. Gen. Leonard Wood, Chief of 
Staff from 1910-1914, took the same 
stand. During his term the issue was 
hotly debated but no decision was 
reached. 9 The Quartermaster con- 
struction organization continued along 



a ( 1 ) W. Stull Holt, The Office of the Chief of Engineers 
of the Army: Its Non-military History, Activities, and 
Organization (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 
1923). PP. 1 1— 1 7. (2) H Doc 330, 80th Cong, 1st 
sess, Historical Statistics of the United States, tjSg-igtf: 
A Supplement to the Statistical Abstract of the United 
States (Washington, 1949), p. 169. Cited hereinafter 
as Historical Statistics of the United States, ij8g-ig^. 
(3) Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 
1889 (Washington, 1889), Part 1, p. 16. (4) Paul W. 
Thompson, What You Should Know About the Army 
Engineers (New York : W. W. Norton and Company, 
Inc., 1942), pp. I94-I9 8 - 

7 S Doc 431, 57th Cong, 1 st sess, 33 Jun oa. 

8 Rpt, TIG to SW. In WD Annual Rpts, FY 
Ending 30 Jun 10. OCE Doc 81599. 

»(i) OQMG 1800-1914, Doc 494615. (a) OCE 
Docs 93454. 994=8. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



7 



as before. Meanwhile, Engineers were 
building the Panama Canal. 

Serious obstacles barred the way to a 
transfer. Maj. Gen. James B. Aleshire, 
the prestigious officer who was The 
Quartermaster General from 1907 to 
1 91 6, was unalterably opposed. 10 Many 
officers in other branches resented the 
proud bearing of the Engineer elite and 
the Corps' close relationship with Con- 
gress. Moreover, powerful opposition 
existed within industry. Since the 1870's, 
a movement had been under way among 
contractors and civil engineers to estab- 
lish a Federal Department of Public 
Works and to assign to it the Engineers' 
civil functions. 11 Any step which would 
strengthen the Corps was certain to 
provoke determined resistance from 
backers of this proposal. The organiza- 
tion was left unchanged. 

As the holocaust of World War I 
engulfed Europe, the old idea persisted 
in the United States — a million men 
would spring to arms overnight. This 
belief was outmoded. The days of taking 
the flintlock off the wall and going off 
to fight were beyond recall. A new day 
had dawned, a day of large-scale mobili- 
zation, systematic training, and tech- 
nological warfare. Camps to house whole 
divisions; plants to mass-produce weap- 
ons and ammunition; warehouses, de- 
pots, and terminals to handle huge 
quantities of materiel; and myriad other 
facilities had become sinews of war. In 
a country which had no sizable standing 
army, no munitions industry to speak of, 



"Memo, TQMG for TSW, 4 Mar 14. OQMG 
1 800-1 9 1 4, Doc 494615. 

11 (1) S Commerce Comm, 50th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings on S 1448, Apr r888, pp. 3-74. (a) S 
Report 1848, 50th Cong, 1st sess, 18 Jul 1888, pp. 
64-69. 



and few facilities to support a mighty 
military effort, construction had become 
the key to preparedness. 

Mobilization: 191J 

Like most of the War Department, 
the Construction and Repair Division, 
Office of The Quartermaster General 
(OQMG), was thrown into confusion 
by the declaration of war against Ger- 
many in April 191 7. Following the 
neutral course set by President Woodrow 
Wilson, who continued to discourage 
military planning even after the diplo- 
matic break with Berlin in February 
1917, the Army had made few prepara- 
tions to mobilize. One man who visited 
construction headquarters shortly after 
hostilities began described the scene as 
near bedlam: "There were a couple of 
Army officers and stenographers. . . . 
Every contractor in the country was 
here. All those men did was to stand in 
front of the desk and shake hands all 
day. . . Paper was stacked high 
on the desk and there was confusion 
galore." 12 The uniformed handshakers 
were Col. Isaac W. Littell, the division 
chief, and his two assistants, Capt. 
William H. Oury and Capt. Richard 
C. Marshall, Jr. Littell, an 1883 West 
Point graduate, was an officer of the old 
school who preferred to do things by the 
book. Oury, his executive, was a Signal 
officer, n earing the end of a four-year 
detail with the Quartermaster Corps. 
The live wire of the organization was 
"Puck" Marshall, a Coast Artillery of- 



1! Transcript of Conv, W. A. Starrett with G. B. 
Clarkson, 9 Aug 1 7. In H Subcomm of the Select 
Comm on Expenditures, 66th Cong, 1 st sess, Hearings, 
II, 2535. Cited hereinafter as Conv, Starrett with 
Clarkson. 



8 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



ficer, serving his second Quartermaster 
detail. Scion of a prominent Old Do- 
minion family, an honor graduate of 
Virginia Military Institute and a former 
mathematics professor there, he displayed 
a rare blend of boyish charm and ag- 
gressive leadership. Word had gone out 
that a million men would be called to 
arms. A big construction effort seemed 
imminent, but Littell and his officers 
did not know what role they would have 
in it. 

Their resources for handling a large 
emergency program were meager, and 
their claim to such responsibility was 
weak. In the spring of 191 7, the Con- 
struction and Repair Division had three 
officers and fifty-three civilians in Wash- 
ington and a handful of constructing 
quartermasters in the field. 1 * Except for 
blueprints of barracks and mess halls 
prepared for use on the Mexican border 
by the Punitive Expedition of 1916, 
Littell had no plans for temporary struc- 
tures. Nor did he have any plans for 
organizing and directing a huge, high- 
speed construction effort. 14 Providing 
temporary shelter had long been a duty 
of commanders in the field. When the 
United States entered the war against 
Germany, many assumed that the com- 
manding generals of the six regional 
departments would build whatever camps 
were necessary. Some, among them 
General Leonard Wood, advocated that 
the work be done by the Corps of En- 
gineers. But despite LittelFs lack of prep- 
aration and despite the availability of 



la Report of the Board of Review of Construction To The 
Assistant Secretary of War, August 31, igig (Washington, 
1920), p. gg. Cited hereinafter as Blossom Report. 

"(0 Ltr, TAG to TQMG, 31 Mar r7, and 1st 
Ind, same date. AG 2540178. (a) Ltr, TQMG to 
TAG, 9 Apr 17. AG 2570158. 



the Engineer Department, the General 
Staff on 7 May ordered The Quarter- 
master General to complete thirty-two 
divisional cantonments by i September. 16 

Among the prominent industrialists 
who hastened to Washington to volunteer 
their services after war was declared 
were William A. Starrett, president of 
Starrett & Van Vleck, architects of New 
York City; Morton C. Tuttle, general 
manager of the Aberthaw Construction 
Company of Boston; and Clemens W. 
Lundoff, vice president of Crowell, 
Lundoff and Little of Cleveland. Late 
in April Secretary of War Newton D. 
Baker asked these men to form the Com- 
mittee on Emergency Construction "under 
the General Munitions Board. Starrett 
chaired the committee. Frederick Law 
Olmsted, the famous landscape archi- 
tect, joined the group. Leonard Metcalf, 
one of the country's foremost designers 
of water and sewerage systems, and two 
leading consulting engineers, George 
W. Fuller and Asa E. Phillips, agreed 
to act as a subcommittee on engineering. 1 ' 
Taking the situation in hand, the Starrett 
committee charted the course war con- 
struction would follow. 

To Starrett and his colleagues, the 
magnitude of LittelPs task was appalling. 
Time was short, and the Quartermaster 
Corps was unfamiliar with high-speed 
building operations. A quick survey of 
the Construction and Repair Division 
convinced the committee that "the ma- 
chine would collapse; that it would not 
accomplish anything." Urging swift 



11 1 st Ind, TAG to TQMG, 7 May 17, on Memo, 
Chief, WCD GS for CofS, 4 May 17. AG 2593945. 

" Min of the Gen Mun Bd, 27 Apr 17, p. 61; 
10 May 17, p. 81; 22 May 17, p. gg. In Sp Coram 
Investigating the Mun Industry. S Coram Print 7, 
74th Cong, 2d sess. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



9 



action, Starrett told Munitions Board 
Chairman Frank A. Scott to get Littell 
out of the War Department, "as it is no 
fit place for a man to try to do business," 
and to "get him space and some people 
around him." Scott agreed: "All right, 
we will get him out this afternoon." He 
put through a call to Secretary Baker, 
who promised to move Littell's office 
right away to the Munsey Building in 
downtown Washington. 17 

On 19 May Baker established the 
Cantonment Division with Littell as 
chief. Nominally a part of the Quarter- 
master Corps, the new organization was, 
for all practical purposes, separate. Littell 
would report directly to the Secretary 
of War. He would appoint and assign 
his own officers, issue travel orders on 
his own authority, and communicate 
with department and division com- 
manders without reference to The 
Quartermaster General. 18 Littell had a 
single mission — to complete thirty-two 
cantonments estimated to cost $90 mil- 
lion by September 191 7. Writing to 
him in May Starrett emphasized the 
"magnitude of the undertaking": 

In 16 weeks you are expected to have 
suitable quarters ready for the training of 
1, 100,000 men. 

You must be building in 32 places at once. 
Most of the sites for the cantonments have 
not yet been chosen. When they have been 
fixed a group of engineering problems of 
first importance must be settled. The water 
supply for each camp must be carefully 
studied. Failure to supply abundance of pure 
water may jeopardize the whole undertaking. 
Proper sewerage must be provided if the 



17 (1) Min, Gen Mun Bd, 15 May 17, pp. 88-89. 
(2) Conv, Starrett with Clarkson, p. 2525. (3) Interv 
with Morton C. Tuttle, 15 Aug 56. 

"Memo, TAG for Littell, 19 May 17. QM oao 
(Constr) i9i7. 



danger of epidemic is to be forestalled. Heat- 
ing, lighting, refrigerating, and laundry 
facilities must be furnished. The solution of 
these engineering problems will be different 
in every locality. 

The planning alone for construction work 
of each of the camps would normally take 
as many weeks as is given you for the comple- 
tion of both the engineering and the building. 



The total cost of the building of the Panama 
Canal was approximately $375,000,000. This 
operation covered a period of 10 years, and 
the largest amount expended in any single 
year in the construction of the Canal was 
$49,000,000, but little over one-half of the 
sum that you are asked to expend in 16 
weeks. 19 

Part of the staff of the Construction and 
Repair Division moved to the Munsey 
Building; part remained behind to take 
care of maintenance and repair work. 
Clearly, Littell would need reinforce- 
ments. 

The Starrett committee assembled 
a high-powered staff for the Canton- 
ment Division. Calls went to the coun- 
try's leading construction firms: send us 
your best men. Frank M. Gunby, a 
partner of Charles T. Main, Inc., arrived 
from Boston to take charge of engineering. 
Dabney H. Maury, past president of 
the American Water Works Association, 
agreed to serve as Gunby's assistant. 
Milton J. Whitson, general superin- 
tendent of Grant Smith & Company of 
St. Paul, assumed direction of con- 
struction operations. Peter Junkersfield, 
president of the Association of Edison 
Companies, joined Whitson's staff. 
Robert E. Hamilton, general purchasing 
agent of the Stone & Webster Engineer- 
ing Corporation, took on the job of 
buying materials. Wall Street lawyer 

"Memo, Starrett for Littell, 25 May 17. AG 
2612346. 



10 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Evan Shelby appeared in Captain 
Marshall's office wearing striped trou- 
sers, frock coat, and spats to announce 
himself the division's legal adviser. 
Shelby promptly exchanged formal 
attire for Army khaki, as he and the 
others were quickly commissioned. Re- 
cruitment went forward rapidly. More 
civilian construction experts donned uni- 
forms, the Civil Service Commission 
waived the requirement that employees 
be hired from its registers, and soon 250 
persons were on the division's rolls. 20 

After about two or three days and 
nights of "solid conference," the mem- 
bers of the Starrett committee and the 
new officers of the Cantonment Division 
reached agreement as to how the building 
program should be handled. With the 
aid of Fuller, Metcalf, and Phillips, 
Major Gunby would prepare typical 
plans and layouts. Major Whitson, as 
construction manager, would direct the 
field forces, while six assistant managers, 
one for each Army department, would 
follow day-to-day operations at the job 
sites; six traveling supervisors would 
patrol the projects, watching for signs 
of trouble and giving on-the-spot help. 
Major Hamilton would procure all build- 
ing materials, maintaining close contact 
with the various supply committees of 
the Munitions Board. Accountants, both 
in Washington and in the field, would 
check expenditures. In direct charge of 
each of the thirty-two cantonments would 
be a Constructing Quartermaster (CQM), 
who would have a staff of engineers, 



20 ( 1 ) Ltr, Pres CSC to Baker, 8 Jun 1 7, in Brig 
Gen Richard C. Marshall, Jr., Hist of the Constr 
Div of the Army, 191 9, Book II. Cited hereinafter 
as Hist of Constr Div. (2) Interv with Brig Gen 
Richard C. Marshall, 1 1 Apr 57. (3) Conv, Starrett 
with Clarkson, p. 2526. 



draftsmen, auditors, inspectors, and 
checkers to assist him. On 22 May the 
plan went to Littell. Two days later 
he approved it. 21 

Meanwhile, Starrett and his colleagues 
were seeking the answer to a crucial 
question — what method of contracting 
was best suited for emergency work. In 
peacetime the government used com- 
petitive agreements exclusively, for the 
old law of 1 86 1 required advertising 
except "when immediate delivery or 
performance is required by the public 
exigency." 2 * Advertised fixed-price con- 
tracts were awarded to the responsible 
contractor who submitted the lowest bid. 
The successful bidder agreed, within 
certain time limits, to furnish materials 
and complete construction in accordance 
with detailed plans and specifications. 
Where the agreement defined the scope 
of the project, the contractor received a 
lump-sum payment. Where the contract 
called for an indefinite quantity of cer- 
tain specified items of work, such as 
square yards of paving, he received a 
unit price for each unit delivered. In 
normal circumstances, advertised fixed- 
price contracts offered several advantages 
on government work. Realistic competi- 
tive conditions tended to hold down bid 
prices. Advertisement obviated suspicion 
of favoritism and afforded every quali- 
fied and responsible bidder an oppor- 
tunity to secure contracts for public 
work. Nevertheless, fixed-price contracts 
could be used only when complete plans 
and specifications were available. Even 



11 (1) Conv, Starrett with Clarkson, p. 2526. (2) 
Memo, Comm on Emergency Constr for Littell, 
22 May 17. Hist of Constr Div, Book II. (3) Canton 
Div Office Orders, 24 May 17. QM 020 (Constr) 

I9I7- 

12 12 Stat. 220. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



11 



then, these agreements could not be 
used effectively unless materials and 
labor markets were relatively stable. 
Furthermore, advertisement was time 
consuming. The Starrett group saw that 
this method was far too slow and cum- 
bersome for a situation where time was 
of the essence. 23 

On 12 April 191 7 Secretary Baker 
invoked the emergency provision of the 
1 86 1 law. Advertisement generally gave 
way to negotiation throughout the War 
Department. Fixed-price contracts were 
superseded by cost-plus-a-percentage-of- 
cost, whereby the government agreed 
to foot nearly all the bills and to pay 
contractors a percentage of the cost of 
the work. The Starrett committee 
adopted a modified form of this agree- 
ment, the "cost-plus with sliding scale 
and fixed maximum fee." Under it the 
contractor's fee represented a percentage 
of cost, but the percentage decreased, 
from 10 to 6 percent, as the cost ad- 
vanced and the maximum allowable 
fee was fixed at $250,000. This agreement 
avoided the worst features of percentage 
contracting and preserved the best: 
construction could begin at once, with- 
out detailed plans and specifications; 
and changes in the scope of a project 
could be made easily and at any time. 24 

As Starrett saw it, contractors were 
the key to success in the operation. On 
the big cantonment jobs, planning and 
design would have to be carried out at 
the same time as construction. Even 
"the best engineering organization in 
the world," the committee held, could 



13 ( I ) Memo, Gomm on Emergency Constr for 
Gen Mun Bd, 9 May 17. Hist of Constr Div, Book III. 
(2 ) Min, Gen Mun Bd, 1 2 May 1 7, p. 86. 

84 (1) WD Orders, 12 Apr 17. (2) Blossom Report, 
pp. 41-43- 



not handle such a task "without blun- 
ders." 25 Construction would have to be 
placed at a rate of $500,000 per week. 26 
From long experience in the "building 
game," members of the Starrett com- 
mittee knew who the best contractors 
were. As a check on their own judgment, 
they sent a confidential questionnaire 
to nearly 2,000 architects and engineers 
requesting them to appraise the or- 
ganization, efficiency, and integrity of 
contractors with whom they had done 
business. At the same time, the com- 
mittee asked architect-engineers and 
constructors to submit performance 
records, together with data on their 
organizations, personnel, and financial 
status. As replies came in, the committee 
classified firms according to geographic 
areas and graded them on the basis of 
size and experience. By early June, 
Starrett was in a position to recommend 
a top-flight company for each canton- 
ment project. 27 

After the enactment of selective ser- 
vice legislation on 18 May 191 7, several 
highly placed officers showed signs of 
developing cold feet. Shortly after the 
President signed the bill, Captain Mar- 
shall received a message from Brig. Gen. 
Joseph E. Kuhn, chief of the War Col- 
lege Division of the General Staff, and 
Brig. Gen. Enoch H. Crowder, who 
would have charge of the draft. They 
doubted if the draft could be called in 
September. According to Marshall, they 
stated "that construction could not be 
completed in time" and that they "would 



25 Memo, Starrett for Littell, 25 May 1 7. AG 
2612346. 

24 Conv, Starrett with Clarkson, p. 2531. 

47 ( 1 ) Memo, Comra on Emergency Constr for 
Gen Mun Bd, 12 Jun 17. Hist of Constr Div, Book 
III. (2) Min, Gen Mun Bd, 6 Jun 17, p. 126. 



12 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



like to be able to advance that as a rea- 
son." Marshall replied that the canton- 
ments would be completed on schedule. 
Should the draft be postponed and con- 
struction blamed, he would give the 
whole story to the newspapers. 28 
Marshall's superior, Colonel Littell, 
took a different position. Called to 
Kuhn's office late in May and asked if 
the cantonments could be completed 
by September, he said it would be 
"physically impossible." On 29 May 
Secretary Baker approved an order de- 
ferring construction of cantonments for 
sixteen National Guard divisions. Work 
on cantonments for sixteen National 
Army divisions would be started at the 
earliest possible date. For these projects, 
the September deadline held. 29 

Meanwhile, the Cantonment Division 
was assuming the character of a big 
engineering firm. In their own eyes, the 
newly commissioned officers of the di- 
vision were heads of an enterprise that 
differed from ordinary civilian under- 
takings only in size and urgency. The 
division corresponded to the company 
home office. CQM's, handpicked by 
Major Whitson for their experience with 
large projects, would have roles equiva- 
lent to general superintendents. Almost 
to a man, the civilians in uniform were 
impatient with military discipline, chan- 
nels of command, customs of the service, 
and the caution displayed by old-line 
officers. Soon after Shelby took charge 
of the Contracts Branch, someone handed 
him a thick volume containing the Army 
Regulations. He tossed it into the waste- 



! * Ltr, Marshall to OCMH, 30 Mar 55. See also 
article from New York World, June ig, rgi 7, re- 
printed in 55 Cong. Rec. 5187. 

" Memo, with Inch, Actg Cof S for TAG, 29 May 
17. QM 020 (Constr) 1917. 



basket. He and his associates adopted 
four rules: build a team; throw away 
peacetime yardsticks; substitute the day 
for the dollar; and get the job done. w 

During June the tempo quickened. 
On the 8th Chairman Scott of the Muni- 
tions Board and Colonel Littell ap- 
proved the, final draft of the new emer- 
gency contract. A few days later, Secre- 
tary Baker informally OK'd it. n With 
the help of civilian engineers recruited 
by Olmsted, site selection boards ap- 
pointed by department commanders 
made rapid progress. By the 14th Baker 
had approved locations for twelve of the 
sixteen cantonments. 82 As sites were 
selected the Starrett committee nom- 
inated leading construction firms, 
among them George A. Fuller, Thomp- 
son-Starrett, Stone & Webster, Bates & 
Rogers, and Mason & Hanger, to build 
the cantonments. The subcommittee 
chose top professional organizations, such 
as Black & Veatch, Frank A. Barbour, 
Samuel A. Greeley, and Alvord & 
Burdick, to serve as architect-engineers. 
Littell and Baker approved the selec- 
tions." 

On the morning of 1 1 June Shelby 
delivered the first two contracts for 
Littell's signature: the total estimated 
cost was nearly $13 million. Returning 
a short time later to find the colonel 
poring over the fine print, the attorney 



30 (1) Blossom Report, pp. 18-19. ( 2 ) Interv with 
Evan Shelby, 17 Aug 56; Interv with Frank M. 
Gunby, 15 Aug 56. 

41 (1) Min, Gen Mun Bd, 8 Jun 17, p. 29. (9) 
Hist of Constr Div, Exhibits, Part 3. 

32 Memo, Littell for TQMG, 14 Jun 17. QM 600.1 
(Gen). 

13 ( 1 ) Memo, Starrett for Gen Mun Bd, 12 Jun 1 7. 
Hist of Constr Div, Book I. (2) Conv, Starrett with 
Clarkson, pp. 2528-31. (3) War Department, Annual 
Reports, Report of the Chief of the Construction Division, 
1918 (Washington, 191 9), p. 59. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



13 




Camp Custer, Michigan, Under Construction, 1917 



protested that the papers had to go out 
that afternoon. Littell sat back a mo- 
ment and then explained that he always 
read every word before he signed his 
name. Forty years in the Army had 
taught him to be cautious. To elucidate 
he told a story. Some years before, while 
he was serving in the Philippines, a halter 
for which he was accountable slipped off 
a mule and fell into a well. When efforts 
to retrieve it failed, Littell was ordered 
to make good the loss, $1.40. He re- 
fused. The debt still stood and he would 
have to pay it before he could retire. 
Signing Shelby's contracts, he shook his 
head; the old army, he observed, did 
things differendy. 34 



14 (1) Blossom Report, p. 142. (a) Shelby Interv, 
'7 Au g 5 6 - 



As soon as agreements were executed, 
sometimes even before, contractors has- 
tened to the job sites. On 13 June an 
advance party from Fred T. Ley & Com- 
pany arrived at Ayer, Massachusetts, 
to start building Camp Devens, a can- 
tonment for 30,000 men. The following 
day, Stone & Webster commenced work 
on Camp Travis, near San Antonio, 
Texas, and Irwin & Leighton began 
staking out Camp Dix, near Wrights- 
town, New Jersey. By July construc- 
tion was in full swing at all sixteen can- 
tonments. Land was cleared, roads 
graded, and railway spurs brought in 
with record speed. Barracks, mess halls, 
latrines, hospitals, and storehouses went 
up fast. At Camp Upton, near Yaphank, 
New York, Thompson-Starrett erected 
sawmills and turned out prefabricated 



14 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



building sections. Several other con- 
tractors adopted the same method. Even 
the installation of utilities, usually slow- 
moving work, went forward rapidly. 
Speed was virtually the only criterion. 
Where there was a question of time or 
money, contractors spent. 35 

Shortages of materials slowed progress 
occasionally but not for long. The first 
war agency to enter the market for con- 
struction supplies, the Cantonment Di- 
vision made the most of its advantage. 
As fast as Gunby could complete bills 
of materials, Hamilton wired concerns 
all over the country, placing orders for 
wallboard, roofing, window glass, fur- 
naces, and nails. He purchased lumber 
through lumber manufacturers' as- 
sociations, which set up offices in Wash- 
ington. The plumbing industry also 
established headquarters in the capital 
to assist Hamilton in his work. The de- 
mand for nails, pipe, and lumber soon 
outran supplies. By bringing pressure 
to bear on producers, substituting wood 
stave pipe for cast iron, and accepting 
green lumber, Hamilton managed to 
fill requirements. Daily, 30,000 tons of 
supplies moved to the sixteen job sites. 
When a shortage of freight cars de- 
veloped, Captain Marshall, trading dol- 
lars for days, sent toilet fixtures south 
from New Jersey by Pullman. 36 

By mid- July 191 7 an army of 160,000 
workers was laboring to build the can- 
tonments. Each project had a hastily 
assembled force of 8,000 to 14,000 men. 



" ( 1 ) Camp Devent, National Army Cantonment, 
published by Fred T. Ley & Co, Inc., 1917. (2) War 
Department, Annual Reports, Report of the Chief of Con- 
struction Division, 1918, p. 59. (3) Blossom Report, pp. 
116, 152. 

36 ( 1 ) Blossom Report, p. 1 33. (2 ) Benedict Crowell, 
America's Munitions, iqij-iqi8 (Washington, 1919), 
pp. 536-37. (3) Marshall Interv, 11 Apr 57. 



Although trained electricians and 
plumbers were needed, the big job, 
carpentering, was mainly one of nailing 
boards together, and for that handy 
men sufficed. Pay was good. Under an 
agreement between Secretary Baker and 
Samuel Gompers, president of the Amer- 
ican Federation of Labor (AFL), union 
wage scales and working rules applied 
on cantonment projects. Men worked 
overtime, Sundays, and holidays at time 
and a half or double time rates. There 
were no serious strikes. Supervision was 
often weak and organization inadequate. 
Results were obtained through sheer 
force of numbers. When one contractor 
said he could increase production 25 
percent by doubling his work force, his 
CQM told him to go ahead, 37 

In the midst of the drive to complete 
the cantonments, Littell got orders to 
provide sixteen camps for the National 
Guard. The directive came on Friday, 
1 3 July. The first contingent of the Guard 
would arrive on i August. At a Saturday 
conference, Gunby, Whitson, and several 
others took stock of the situation. The 
Guardsmen had tents, so they would 
not need barracks. The Guardsmen had 
field kitchens, so they would not need 
cook shacks. The Guardsmen had tools 
with which to dig latrines. Water would 
have to be provided for them. That, said 
Gunby, meant pipe, lots of pipe. He 
knew just the man to turn to for help. 
An important pipe manufacturer from 
Youngstown, Ohio, was in town that 
day. Gunby located this man on a golf 
course, called him into the office, and 
persuaded him to telephone Youngs- 



37 (i ) Memo, Littell for TQMG, 28 Nov 17. Hist of 
Gonstr Div, Book V. (2) QM 020 (Constr) 1917. 
(3) Blossom Report, p. 35. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



15 




Tents at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, 1917 



town and start pipe moving south. By- 
Monday CQM's were on their way to 
the job sites. On Tuesday and Wednes- 
day Littell signed fifteen contracts. Be- 
fore the week was out work was under 
way on ten of the camps; by the 25th 
all sixteen were building. 88 

At the thirty-two camp and canton- 
ment jobs, contractors pushed furiously 
ahead, their eyes on the calendar. By 
mid-August accommodations were ready 
for 54,000 Guardsmen; by 1 September 
the camps could take 295,000. The 



»»(0 Memo, Chief WCD GS for CofS, 9 Jul 17. 
AG 2619836. (a) Memo, Actg CofS for TAG, 13 Jul 
17. Hist of Constr Div, Book I. (3) Gunby Interv, 
15 Aug 56. (4) Min, Gen Mun Bd, 13, 16, 17, 24 Jul 
17. (5) Blossom Report, pp. 111, 143. 



"Guard business," said Gunby, was "the 
jewel of the whole thing. " n Meanwhile, 
cantonment deadlines were being met. 
Housing for 287,300 draftees was ready 
on 4 September. Considerable work 
remained when the troops moved in, 
but no soldier went without a bed. From 
September on, construction ran ahead 
of schedule. More than a million men 
were housed by late 191 7. 40 

The cost totaled $179,478,978, 



38 (i) Memo, Littell for TQMG, a6 Aug 17. Hist 
of Constr Div, Book III. (2) Blossom Report, p. 143. (3) 
Gunby Interv, 15 Aug 56. 

" (1 ) Memo, Littell for Chief Admin Div OQMG, 
23 Aug 17. (a) Rpt, Canton Div, n.d., sub: Tps 
Housed at NA Cantons on 4 Sep 1 7. Both in Hut of 
Constr Div, Book III. (3) Report, Chief of the Con- 
struction Division, igi8, p. 39. 



16 CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Table 1— National Army Cantonments, 1917 











Total 


Cost per 


Name of Camp 


Location 


Contractor 


Capacity 


Cost 


Capita. 


Total National Army 






654,786 
34,045 


$140,726,472 
8,700,000 


3214.92 
255.54 


Custer 


Battle Creek, Mich. 


Porter Bros. 


Devens 


Ayer, Mass. 


Fred T. Ley & Co. 


35,288 


9,727,145 


275.64 


Dix 


Wrightstown, N.J. 


Irwin ic Leighton Co. 


41,309 


9,623,067 


232.95 


Dodge 


Des Moines, Iowa 


Weitz & Son 


40,526 


6,815,519 


168.17 


Funston 


Fort Riley, Kans. 


George A. Fuller Co. 


41,564 


8,799,535 


211.71 


Gordon 


Atlanta, Ga. 


Arthur Tufts Co. 


39,796 


7,483,002 


188.03 


Grant 


Rockford, 111. 


Bates & Rogers 


41,309 


8,517,233 


206.18 


Jackson 


Columbia, S.C. 


Hardaway 

Construction Co. 


42,498 


8,731,187 


205.45 


Lee 


Petersburg, Va. 


Reinhart & Dennis 


45,512 


11,300,000 


248.28 


Lewis 


American Lake, Wash. 


Hurley & Mason Co. 


44,685 


7,007,235 


158.38 


Meade 


Annapolis Junction, Md. 


Smith, Ha user & 
Maclsaac 


41,309 


10,500,000 


254.16 


Pike 


Little Rock, Ark. 


James Stewart & Co. 


42,347 


9,015,565 


212.89 


Sherman 


Chillicothe, Ohio 


A. Bentley Co. 


38,393 


9,620,075 


250.57 


Travis 


Fort Sam Houston, Texas 


Stone & Webster 


41,353 


6,717,176 


162.43 


Upton 


Yaphank, L.I., N.Y. 


Thompson-Starrett 
Construction Co. 


40,913 


11,128,341 


272.00 


Zachary Taylor 


Louisville, Ky. 


Mason & Hanger Co. 


43,939 


7,041,392 


160.25 



Source: Canton Div, Total Estimated Cost for Constr of National Army Cantons, 1917. EHD Files. 



Table 2 — National Guard Camps, 1917 











Total 


Cost per 


Name of Camp 


Location 


Contractor 


Capacity 


Cost 


Capita 


Total National Guard 






438,042 
27,152 


338,752,506 
2,648,982 


% 88.32 
97.56 


Beauregard 


Alexandria, La. 


Stewart-McGhee 
Construction Co. 


Bowie 


Fort Worth, Texas 


J. W. Thompson 


27,152 


2,305,402 


84.92 


Cody 


Deming, N. Mex. 


J. W. Thompson 


27,152 


2,610,443 


96.14 


Doniphan 


Fort Sill, Okla. 


Seldon-Brack Construction Co. 


27,152 


2,331,802 


85.88 


Fremont 


Palo Alto, Calif. 


Lindgren ic Co. 


27,152 


1,988,729 


73.24 


Greene 


Charlotte, N.C. 


Consolidated Engineering Co. 


27,152 


3,246,793 


119.58 


Hancock 


Augusta, Ga. 


T. P. Brown & Son 


27,152 


2,048,571 


75.45 


Kearney 


Linda Vista, Calif. 


W. E. Hampton & Co. 


27,152 


2,977,088 


109.65 


Logan 


Houston, Texas 


American Construction Co. 


27,152 


1,963,058 


72.30 


McClellan 


Anniscon, Ala. 


J. O. Chisholm & Co. 


27,152 


3,258,278 


120.00 


MacArthur 


Waco, Texas 


Fred. A. Jones Construction Co. 


27,152 


1,974,375 


72. 72 


Sevier 


Greenville, S.C. 


Gallivan Building Co. 


27,152 


1,871,440 


68.92 


Sheridan 


Montgomery, Ala. 


A. Blair 


27,152 


1,915,056 


70.46 


Shelby 


Hattiesburg, Miss. 


T. S. Moudy & Co. 


30,762 


3,289,825 


106.94 


Wadsworth 


Spartansburg, S.C. 


Fisk, Carter Construction Co. 


27,152 


2,187,327 


80.56 


Wheeler 


Macon, Ga. 


W. Z. Williams Co. 


27,152 


2,135,337 


78.64 



Source: Canton Div, Total Estimated Cost of Camp Constr, 1917. EHD Files. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



17 




Barracks and Lavatories, Camp Dk, New Jersey 



$140,726,472 for the National Army 
cantonments and $38,752,506 for the 
National Guard camps. The average 
per capita costs wer e $215 and $88, 
respectively. [Tables 1 and 2) To builders 
of the cantonments, tn^Army paid 
$4,000,000 in fees, or 2.84 percent of 
the total cost. Every one of these con- 
tractors received the maximum fee of 
$250,000, a sum less than would have 
been earned under straight cost-plus- 
a-percentage agreements. Proportion- 
ately the fees for camp construction 
were higher, amounting to $2,638,524, 
or 6.8 percent of the total cost. Because 
none of these contractors had attained 
the maximum fee, their earnings repre- 
sented straight percentages of cost. 

Huge quantities of materials and 
prodigious efforts had gone into con- 
struction. Close to 1 billion board feet 
of lumber, 80 million square feet of 



roofing paper, 34 million square feet of 
wall board, 1 million feet of wood stave 
pipe, 468,000 feet of cast iron pipe, 
105,000 kegs of nails, and 314,000 bar- 
rels of cement had been purchased for 
the cantonments alone. A total of 105,358 
freight cars had been used to haul ma- 
terials to the 32 mobilization projects. 41 
A total of 212,172 workmen had been 
employed — an average of 8,400 at each 
of the cantonments and of 2,750 at each 
of the camps. It was the largest force of 
construction labor ever assembled in the 
United States. 

The training centers for the National 
Army and the National Guard were 
veritable cities, complete with roads, 
walks, power lines, and water systems. 
The largest of the cantonments, Camp 



41 Incl with Memo, Littell for TQMG, 28 Nov 17. 
Hist of Constr Div, Book V. 



18 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Lee, Virginia, accommodated 45,512 
men; the smallest, Camp Custer, Michi- 
gan, 34,045. Each of the tent camps held 
a Guard division of 27,152, except Camp 
Shelby, which housed 30,762. Nearly all 
the comforts of large urban communities 
were provided for the troops — hospitals, 
infirmaries, bakeries, laundries, theaters, 
clubhouses, gymnasiums, and more. In 
the cantonments, troops lived in 250- 
man barracks, heated by steam or 
warmed by stoves, with modern lava- 
tories nearby. Guardsmen were quartered 
in snug, floored tents, equipped with 
stoves or heaters. Their sanitary facilities, 
though crude, were adequate. Never 
before had American soldiers been so 
well housed in wartime. 

Contemporaries marveled at the speed 
with which this vast undertaking was 
accomplished. Historians agreed that 
construction of the camps and canton- 
ments in so short a time "constituted 
one of the great achievements of the 
mobilization effort" in 191 7. 42 In the 
words of Frederic L. Paxson, "It was a 
triumph of skill and energy to have the 
camps as nearly ready as they were; a 
triumph for W. A. Starrett of the Emer- 
gency Construction Committee and 
Brigadier-General I. W. Littell of the 
Quartermaster Corps." 43 

Centralization 

In the spring and summer of 191 7, 
while LittelFs division was building 
camps and cantonments, other military 

41 Lt. Col. Marvin Kreidberg and I st Lt. Merton G. 
Henry, History of Mobilization in the United States 
Army, iyy^-:g^, DA Pamphlet 20-312 (Washington, 

•955). P- 3' i- 

* s Frederic L. Paxson, America at War igij-18 
(Boston: Houghton, Mifflin Company, 1939), p. 
107. 



construction programs were starting 
under different auspices. Soon after the 
declaration of war, the Corps of En- 
gineers began work on several depots 
and an office building; the Signal Corps 
began construction of a dozen schools 
for training pilots and technicians; and 
no fewer than five divisions of the Ord- 
nance Department began erecting fa- 
cilities for their own use. Competition 
for labor and materials caused trouble. 
Lack of uniformity in contracting meth- 
ods encouraged builders to play one 
agency against another. The arrange- 
ment was illogical and uneconomical. 
As the camps and cantonments neared 
completion, and the work for which 
Littell's organization had been created 
was concluded, the Starrett committee 
proposed that all Army construction 
be placed under the men who had per- 
formed so well in meeting mobilization 
deadlines. 

On 5 October 191 7, upon the com- 
mittee's advice, Secretary Baker ordered 
all military construction except forti- 
fications, centralized in the Cantonment 
Division. On the 10th he transferred 
The Quartermaster General's organiza- 
tion for maintenance and repair, to- 
gether with its chief, Maj. Charles O. 
Zollars, to the Cantonment Division. 44 
Early in November Capt. Charles D. 
Hartman, a 1908 West Point graduate 
who had recently joined the Quarter- 
master Corps, became Zollars' assistant. 
Hartman's debut as a construction of- 
ficer marked the beginning of an active 
career that would span nearly a quarter 
century. Under him and Zollars, main- 



"(1) Ltr, TAG to TQMG, 5 Oct 17. QM 020 
(Constr) 191 7. (2) OQMG Office Order 106, 10 
Oct 1 J. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



19 



tenance and repair meshed smoothly 
into the work of the Cantonment Di- 
vision. But other construction activities 
remained where they were, in the Ord- 
nance and Engineer Departments and 
in the Signal Corps. 

Baker's centralization order met stiff 
resistance. The Chief Signal Officer 
asked for a blanket exemption. Writing 
to the Chief of Staff on 15 October, he 
argued that the Signal Corps con- 
struction program was closely tied in 
with production of planes and training 
of flyers. Howard E. Coffin, the Detroit 
industrialist who headed the Aircraft 
Production Board, opposed making a 
change. Swayed by these men, Baker 
gave ground. On the 20th he agreed to 
study the matter thoroughly and to poll 
the other bureau chiefs affected by his 
order. Until then, he advised Coffin, 
the Signal Corps would continue to 
build. 46 

Early in December representatives 
of the Cantonment Division, the Corps 
of Engineers, the Signal Corps, the 
Ordnance Department, and the Starrett 
committee met to try to reconcile their 
differences. Two plans were offered for 
discussion. Under the first, the various 
services would continue to build; the 
Starrett committee would co-ordinate 
their efforts. The second plan called for 
strict adherence to Secretary Baker's 
5 October order. After two days of de- 
bate, the conferees were hopelessly dead- 
locked. The Engineers, the Signal Corps, 
and the Ordnance Department held out 
for the first plan; the Cantonment Di- 
vision and the Starrett group, for the 



Memo, Actg CSigO for CofS, 15 Oct 17. 
(a) Ltr, Coffin to WDGS, 20 Oct 17. Both in Hist of 
Constr Div, Book I, 



second. On 8 December Starrett informed 
the General Staff that efforts to reach an 
agreement had failed. 46 

Meanwhile, the tide was turning in 
favor of centralization. During October 
Starrett, Tuttle, and Marshall persuaded 
one of Baker's advisers that a centralized 
construction agency would be "in the 
public interest" and in conformance with 
"sound business principles." 47 In Novem- 
ber Benedict Crowell, a former partner of 
Lundoff, became Assistant Secretary of 
War. Crowell joined the members of 
the Starrett committee in urging Baker 
to abide by his first decision. On 22 
December the Secretary announced that 
his order of 5 October would stand. 48 

During the fall of 191 7, Littell took 
steps to strengthen the Cantonment 
Division for larger tasks ahead. A num- 
ber of changes appeared to be necessary. 
More men with experience in industrial 
construction would have to be recruited. 
To push the new program to comple- 
tion, the division would need all of the 
powers and authorities given to it by the 
Secretary back in May, plus some new 
ones. On 9 October, the day he became 
a brigadier general, Littell asked Baker 
for authority to communicate directly 
with bureau chiefs, to commission ci- 
vilians, to promote his principal assis- 
tants, and to make certain adjustments 
in his organization. The Secretary re- 
ferred the matter to Maj. Gen. John 



18 (1 ) Memo, Gunby for Starrett, 6 Dec 17. Hist of 
Constr Div, Book III. (2) Memo, Starrett for Col P. 
E. Pierce, WDGS, 8 Dec 17. CE Doc 1 15946. (3) 
Memo, Starrett for Maj W. W. Taylor, WDGS, 8 
Dec 17. QM 020 (Constr) 1917. 

47 Memo, Stanley King for Baker, 26 Oct 1 7. Hist 
of Constr Div, Book I. 

18 Memo, OCofS for TAG, 22 Dec 17. OCS 
6374-333. 



20 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Biddle, an Engineer officer who was 
Acting Chief of Staff". 49 

LittelFs requests involved him in an 
acrimonious dispute with Biddle, for 
the two men held conflicting views 
about the Cantonment Division. Littell 
regarded his organization as a special 
outfit, responsible only to the Secretary. 
Biddle, on the other hand, looked upon 
the division as a subordinate element 
of the Quartermaster Corps; and he 
felt that LittelFs proposals ought to be 
considered in the light of overall 
Quartermaster organization and poli- 
cies. On one occasion, Biddle warned 
Littell that he could not continue to 
bypass his superior officer, The Quarter- 
master General. Early in January 191 8, 
Biddle turned the problem over to the 
newly appointed Acting Quartermaster 
General, Maj. Gen. George W. Goethals, 
the Engineer officer acclaimed as the 
builder of the Panama Canal. 60 

To Goethals the solution was obvious — 
place all military construction under 
the Corps of Engineers. He gave no 
reason for his recommendation, perhaps 
feeling that none was necessary. 61 How- 
ever, others believed some explanation 
was required. In a study of Goethal's 
proposal undertaken at Baker's request, 
Col. Daniel W. Ketcham of the War 
Department General Staff pointed out 
that efforts to transfer construction from 
the Quartermaster Corps to the Corps 
of Engineers had been made in the past, 
but that arguments advanced in favor 
of the change had "never been strong 



" Memo, Littell for Baker, 9 Oct 1 7. QM oao 
(Constr) 1917. 
M OCS 10394. 

"Memo, Goethals for Baker, 16 Jan 18. OCS 
10394-6. 



enough to prevail." A shift in responsi- 
bility, Ketcham argued, should be made 
only after conclusive evidence had been 
presented that gains in efficiency or 
economy would offset time lost in re- 
organization and readjustment. Goethals 
had offered no such evidence. In Ket- 
cham's opinion, the Cantonment Di- 
vision was doing a splendid job. To 
make "unnecessary changes in personnel, 
organization, and methods" in the midst 
of war, he concluded, "would be a grave 
mistake." 62 

The Cantonment Division was in 
serious trouble. Even if Goethals' maneu- 
ver failed, the division faced the prospect 
of working under an officer who favored 
its absorption by the Corps of Engineers. 
Recognizing that they had an impossible 
situation on their hands, Baker and 
Crowell acted to remove Littell from 
Goethals' jurisdiction. To a War De- 
partment order of 9 February 1918 
dealing with the organization of the 
General Staff they added a paragraph 
charging the Operations Division with 
"the supervision and co-ordination of 
camp sites, cantonments, army posts, 
hospitals, sanitation, construction plans 
and projects as the same relate to all 
branches of the Army." 83 

Littell was unaware of this develop- 
ment. He received no copy of the War 
Department order and had no inkling 
of its content. Testifying on 1 1 February 
before the Senate Committee on Military 
Affairs, he said he expected the worst: 

Senator Chamberlain. Are you building 
for the Signal Corps in addition to the work 
of construction that is in hand? 



"Memo, Ketcham for CofS, 23 Jan 18. OCS 
10394-6. 
53 WD GO 14, 9 Feb 18. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



21 



General Littell. We have taken over their 
work. 

Senator Chamberlain. When was that 
order issued? 
General Littell. That was October 5. 

Senator Chamberlain. Is there not a more 
recent order that takes the construction work 
from you and turns it over to the Engineer- 
ing Department? 

General Littell. That is in contemplation, 
as we hear it. 

Senator Chamberlain. You have not got 
an order? 

General Littell. We have been told that 
the Cantonment Division would be trans- 
ferred to the Engineer Corps. 64 

The next morning Littell was back on 
the Hill for another session with the 
committee, when his long military ca- 
reer ended abruptly. At Crowell's direc- 
tion, orders were cut retiring Littell and 
naming Marshall his successor. The 
reasons for Littell's relief were obscure. 
Later, some pointed a finger at Goethals; 
others, at Starrett. Reportedly, Marshall 
once styled himself the "self-appointed" 
Chief of Construction. 55 To the members 
of the Cantonment Division, the dynamic 
and aggressive "Puck" Marshall pre- 
sented a sharp contrast to the gentle- 
hearted Littell. The cousin of a former 
Chief of Engineers and a personal ac- 
quaintance of Secretary Baker, Marshall 
knew his way around the War Depart- 
ment. 66 The aging and kindly Littell 



" S Comra on Mil Affs, 65th Cong, 2d sess, Hear- 
ings, Investigation of the War Department, Part 4, p. 
3405. 

"(1) Memo, Biddle for TAG, 12 Feb 18. OCS 
10394-10. (2) Intervs with Col L. C. Ritchie, 26, 27 
Apr 56; Shelby Interv, 17 Aug 56. (3) H Rpt 816, 
66th Cong, 2d sess, 1 Apr 20. (4) Interv with Mrs. 
Mary B. Pagan, 8 Mar 57. 

"Gunby Interv, 15 Aug 56; Marshall Interv, 11 
Apr 57. 




General Marshall. 
(Photograph taken in 1918.) 



had to step aside for the politically astute 
young officer. 

The effects of Colonel Marshall's 
leadership were soon apparent. A War 
Department order of 13 March 1918 
changed the name of the organization 
to the Construction Division of the Army 
and allotted it 1,407 officers and 1,137 
civilian employees." On ig April 
Marshall reorganized the division, cre- 
ated several new bran ches, and made 
changes in personnel. (Chart 1) With 
Crowell's backing, he took on additional 
duties. On 10 April the Construction 
Division became responsible for pre- 
paring plans, specifications, and esti- 
mates for all military construction proj- 
ects. Encroaching on the jurisdiction 



"Ltr, TAG to OIC Canton Div, 13 Mar 18. 
QM 020 (Constr) 1918. 



I 

1 

3 I 

1 1 



o 
■ 

>>- 





v> a 







LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



23 



of the Corps of Engineers, Marshall 
undertook construction in the theater 
of operations — three meat storage and 
ice- making plants in France. 58 

Recognizing the defects in current 
contracting methods, Marshall adopted 
a new form of emergency agreement. 
Although contracts used during the first 
ten months of the war had in every case 
fixed a maximum allowable fee, there 
still existed an incentive for unscrupulous 
contractors to increase costs to the point 
that gave them the largest allowable 
profits. Since a contract under which 
contractors made the most money when 
costs were high was obviously not to the 
government's advantage, the use of per- 
centage contracts was discontinued in 
February igi 8, when Marshall switched 
to an arrangement very like the cost- 
plus-a-fixed-fee (CPFF) contract of 
World War II. Fees were henceforth 
based on original estimates rather than 
on actual costs. The new method had 
all the speed of percentage contracting 
but avoided offering rewards for in- 
efficiency and extravagance. 69 

Beginning in the spring of 191 8, 
Marshall had to devote more and more 
of his energies to fending off attacks on 
the division. About the first of May a 
disturbing rumor reached him: a para- 
graph calling for the transfer of the Con- 
struction Division to the Corps of En- 
gineers had found its way into the Army 
appropriation bill then before the House 
Committee on Military Affairs. Marshall 
immediately conferred with Crowell and 
the new Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Peyton 
C. March. 60 When the news reached 



M (i) Ltr, TAG to OIC Constr Div, 10 Apr 18. 
Hist of Constr Div, Book I. (2) Blossom Report, p. 302. 
"Blossom Report, pp. 192-93. 
'° Marshall Interv, 1 1 Apr 57. 



him, Secretary Baker tried to have the 
passage deleted. Appearing before the 
committee on 6 May, March declared 
that the Secretary was perfectly satisfied 
with the existing arrangement for con- 
struction. And so was he. "If there is 
any legislation in the appropriation bill 
relating to this subject in connection 
with the Engineer Corps," said March, 
"we want it stricken out." 61 The bill 
reported out by the committee contained 
no such provision. 

Marshall lost no time in striking back. 
On 1 6 May, at his prompting, Senator 
Harry S. New of Indiana introduced 
a bill to create a permanent construction 
corps. The proposed corps would be 
headed by a major general and staffed 
by 570 officers, two-thirds of whom would 
be drawn from the officers of the present 
division. But the bill went further, for 
Marshall had included a provision to 
take rivers and harbors work away from 
the Engineers and assign it to the new 
Construction Corps. 62 The bill went to 
the Committee on Military Affairs, 
which forwarded the measure to the 
War Department. 

The task of commenting on the bill 
fell to Brig. Gen. Lytle Brown, director 
of the War Plans Division of the General 
Staff and an Engineer officer. On 29 
May, Brown wrote General March: 
"Consideration of this measure might 
lead to the belief that it is a scheme for 
making permanent provision for certain 
officers who have received temporary 
commissions in the Construction Corps 
and in this respect seems to be largely a 
plan for personal preferment." He found 



61 H Comm on Mil Affs, 66th Cong, ad scss, 
Hearings on Army Appropriation Bill, igig, vol. 2, pp. 
27-28. 

" 56 Cong. Rec. 6575. 



24 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



the portions of the bill that dealt with 
the Engineers' civil functions particularly 
objectionable. "The War Plans Di- 
vision," Brown protested, "is of the 
opinion that it is beyond the power of 
the human mind to solve in time of war, 
a question which pertains to a basis of 
peace." He drafted, and on 15 June 
Secretary Baker signed, a letter to the 
committee chairman opposing the bill. 83 

Senator New's measure posed a dire 
threat to the Corps of Engineers. For 
more than forty years a group within the 
construction industry had labored to 
consolidate all federal construction, in- 
cluding rivers and harbors work, into 
one government department. Men iden- 
tified with this movement dominated 
the Starrett committee and the Con- 
struction Division of the Army. Leagued 
with them was Assistant Secretary of War 
Benedict Crowell. To Maj. Gen. William 
M. Black, the Chief of Engineers, the 
bill appeared to be part of a fine-spun 
plot which was beginning to unfold. The 
time for a showdown had come. The 
Engineers had either to crush the separate 
corps or to risk being crushed by it. 

On 27 May, Black tried to persuade 
the Chief of Staff that the Construction 
Division should be turned over to the 
Corps of Engineers. He reminded March 
that the Corps had done construction 
of every type in discharging its military 
and civil duties. "Since the outbreak of 
war," he pointed out, "in the United 
States it has constructed the first com- 
plete system of embarkation points the 
Army now possesses . and is 
now in charge of all construction work 
of all character in France." Many En- 

"(r) Memo, Brown for March, 99 May 18. (a) 
Ltr, Baker to Chm S Comm on Mil Affs, 15 Jun 18. 
Both in OCS 10394-14. 



gineer Reservists were members of the 
Construction Division. "I now find that 
the continued separation of the Construc- 
tion Department has resulted in embar- 
rassment to this Department 
Black informed March. In conclusion, he 
declared : 

Difficulties would disappear were the 
Construction Department made a part of 
the Engineer Department and placed under 
the control of the Chief of Engineers. There 
would be need for but one purchasing de- 
partment. Since there is a great variety in 
the work now assigned to the Construction 
Department as well as to the Engineer De- 
partment, the best experts for any particular 
class of work could be selected from either 
department were the Construction Depart- 
ment under the control of the Engineer 
Department, and the number of experts 
required reduced. Without a doubt, an in- 
creased efficiency and economy would re- 
sult. The present organization is anomalous, 
and the Construction Department really now 
constitutes an independent bureau of the 
War Department. It is submitted that the 
existing conditions are not those compatible 
with good organization and greatest effi- 
ciency. 94 

March sent Black's proposal to the Con- 
struction Division the following day. 

Replying on 6 June, Marshall at- 
tempted to refute Black's arguments. 
The Engineers had not built the em- 
barkation depots, he declared; credit 
for that accomplishment belonged to 
Cantonment Division. Moreover, the 
Engineers had detailed only nine Reser- 
vists to him and Littell. Marshall dis- 
missed Black's statement about compe- 
tition by saying that there was none. 
He argued that a tradition-bound mili- 
tary organization could not be effective 
in a war situation. Engineer officers 



"Memo, Black for March, 27 May 18. Hist of 
Constr Div, Book II. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



25 



"accustomed to the usually slow-pro- 
gressing and permanent work of forti- 
fications, military roads, and river and 
harbor improvements" were too in- 
flexible to cope with emergency con- 
ditions. The Construction Division had 
what the Corps of Engineers lacked: 
top-notch men, unhampered by tradi- 
tion and unfettered by red tape and 
military protocol. The division and the 
using services were working as a team. 
"To change or substitute for this team- 
work spirit, the necessarily fixed ideas 
and strivings for perfection of an older 
department," Marshall warned, "would 
result in those conflicts of ideas and long 
drawn out discussions which have pro- 
duced such adverse results in some of 
the other governmental activities." 66 

Marshall lined up powerful support. 
He went first to Crowell, who agreed to 
throw the weight of his influence behind 
the Construction. Division. Marshall then 
took up Black's proposal with the Chief 
of Staff and the Secretary. March was 
against it, and so was Baker, who wanted 
no further changes in the wartime con- 
struction setup. 66 On 14 June The Adju- 
tant General issued a terse order: "The 
Secretary of War disapproves the recom- 
mendation for the transfer of the Con- 
struction Division to the Engineer De- 
partment." 47 Two weeks later Baker 
raised Marshall to one-star rank. Hence- 
forth the Chief of Construction was 
known to his comrades as "General 
Puck." 

The struggle between Marshall and 
the Engineers was just beginning. In 



"Memo, Marshall for March, 6 Jun 18. Hist of 
Constr Div, Book II. 

•* Marshall Interv, 1 1 Apr 57. 

"Ltr, TAG to OIC Constr Div, 14 Jun 18. Q.M 
600.1 (1918-41). 



August 1 91 8, General Goethals, who 
had been named director of the Purchase, 
Storage and Traffic Division (PS&T) 
of the General Staff, submitted a plan 
for reorganizing the Army's supply sys- 
tem, which put construction under 
PS&T. March approved the plan except 
the part dealing with construction. An 
attempt by Crowell and Marshall to 
make the Construction Division per- 
manent by means of an Executive Order 
failed when Baker withheld approval. 68 
Two months later, Marshall learned 
that Goethals had centralized many of 
the Army's procurement and fiscal ac- 
tivities. Indications were that the supply 
and finance functions of the Construc- 
tion Division would soon go to PS&T. 
Marshall and his associates considered 
the idea preposterous. Building materials 
could not be divorced from building 
operations. Writing to the Chief of Staff 
on 2 November 1918, Marshall stated: 

Construction consists of the complete 
functions necessary for delivering at the site 
of a project materials and labor and [for] 
organizing, inspecting, accounting and pay- 
ing for the same .... To omit any 
of these functions in a construction operation 
would produce a decided destructive effect 
upon a construction program. The loss of 
time and money would be too great to per- 
mit of using the word "organization" in con- 
nection with it. 69 

Nine days later the war ended. 

Under Marshall's direction, the Con- 
struction Division had compiled an im- 
pressive record. At the time of the armis- 
tice, shelter for approximately 1,736,000 
men had been provided at 32 camps 



(1) Memo, March for Goethals, 26 Aug 18. (2) 
Memo, Marshall for Crowell, a Aug 18. Both in 
QM 600.1 (1918-41). 

Memo, Marshall for March, a Nov 18. QM 
600.1 (1918-41). 



26 CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Old Hickory Powder Plant, Tennessee, nearing completion, 1918. 



and cantonments, 4 ports of embarkation, 
22 special training centers, and numerous 
other posts and stations. In addition, 
work was completed, or nearly so, on 
77 airfields, schools, and other facilities 
for the Division of Military Aeronautics; 
49 base and 40 general hospitals for the 
Medical Corps; 30 supply bases and 
depots for the Quartermaster Corps; 
and 95 munitions plants and depots for 
the Ordnance Department and the 
Chemical Warfare Service. The program 
included 581 projects with a total cost 
of approximately $ 1 billion.™ 

To many in a position to observe its 
performance, the Construction Division 



ro ( 1 ) War Department, Annual Reports, Report of the 
Chief of the Construction Division, igig (Washington, 
1930), p. 64. (a) Blossom Report, p. a68. 



was an effective organization, one worthy 
of praise and preservation. To others, 
it was an anomaly within the War De- 
partment, a reprobate outfit, and a proper 
subject for Congressional inquiry. 

Congress Investigates 

Senator Kenneth D. McKellar of 
Tennessee led the attack on what he 
called the "remarkable system" under 
which the camps and cantonments were 
built. Addressing the Senate on 17 July 
1 91 7, McKellar denounced extravagance 
and corruption in the construction pro- 
gram. An investigation of four canton- 
ment projects had convinced him that 
cost-plus contracts were not in the public 
interest and that contractors were far 
more concerned with obtaining high fees 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



27 



than with saving tax dollars. Vast sums 
of money were being squandered. Con- 
struction costs were soaring out of sight. 
Moreover, McKellar charged, favori- 
tism had entered into the selection of 
contractors. He identified Starrett with 
the George A. Fuller Company, con- 
tractors for Camp Funston, and with 
the Thompson-Starrett Company, con- 
tractors for Camp Upton. He stated that 
associates of other camp contractors 
were serving with the Committee on 
Emergency Construction and the Can- 
tonment Division. Inveighing against 
big business, the Senator declared that 
the construction program was being run 
for the benefit of a few large corpora- 
tions. 71 

Although other legislators soon joined 
McKellar in condemning the conduct 
of the building program, some months 
elapsed before Congress launched a for- 
mal inquiry. In December 191 7 the 
Senate Military Affairs Committee, of 
which McKellar was a member, began 
an investigation of the mobilization ef- 
fort. Speaking at a rally of the National 
Security League in New York City during 
January 191 8, Chairman George E. 
Chamberlain revealed the committee's 
attitude: "The Military Establishment 
of America has fallen down. ... It 
has almost stopped functioning . . . 
because of inefficiency in every bureau 
and in every department of the Govern- 
ment of the United States." 72 Two days 
later he introduced a bill to take direction 
of the war out of the President's hands 
and to vest it in a war cabinet. The 
committee endeavored to show why 
such a bill was necessary. Consuming 



71 55 Cong. Rec. 5i8iff. 

71 Quoted in Paxson, America at War, p. a 1 6. 



fifteen weeks and producing 2,500 pages 
of testimony, its hearings told a story 
of failure and abuses. 73 In the rash of 
sensational headlines which emanated 
from the inquiry, construction had a 
prominent place. 

Appearing before the committee in 
February 191 8, the top men in the 
construction program were confronted 
by Senator McKellar in the role of 
principal interrogator. Hinting at con- 
spiracy and collusion, McKellar sub- 
jected the witnesses to exhaustive ques- 
tioning. Were all thirty-two camps and 
cantonments built under cost-plus con- 
tracts? Who was responsible for adopting 
the cost-plus system? Were not the fees 
enormous for three months' work? Who 
had selected the contractors? What were 
Starrett' s connections with these firms? 
Was not his brother Paul head of George 
A. Fuller? Who were the stockholders in 
Thompson-Starrett? How many con- 
struction men had come into the govern- 
ment in order to feather their nests and 
those of friends and relatives? The 
examination continued for two full days — 
Littell, Starrett, Marshall, Gunby, 
Whitson, and Willcutt testified in turn — 
as McKellar sought to uncover a plot 
to mulct the government. 74 

Denying imputations of wrongdoing, 
the accused put up a vigorous defense. 
Starrett had severed connections with 
the Fuller Company of which his brother 
was president some years before; he had 
no interest in Thompson-Starrett or any 
other company which had received an 
emergency contract. Contractors had 
been chosen solely for their ability to 

13 Ibid., a 1 1-12, a 1 6-33. 

M S Comm on Mil Affs, 65th Cong, ad sess, 
Hearings, Investigation of the War Department, Part 4, 
1 1 and 1 a Feb 1 8, passim. 



28 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



construct a camp or cantonment within 
the time allotted. All selections had been 
approved by the responsible heads of 
the War Department and by the General 
Munitions Board. The emergency agree- 
ment had fully protected the public 
interest. Fees were lower than those 
usually paid for comparable work. Up- 
holding the men from industry, Littell 
and Marshall emphasized the record 
of accomplishment. McKellar's allega- 
tions were not proved. 75 Nevertheless, 
the man in the street was inclined to 
believe that where there was such dense 
smoke, there must be some fire. 

In response to criticism of the emer- 
gency construction contract, Acting Sec- 
retary Crowell asked that a study be 
made "to see if some better method of 
executing this work could be followed." 
At Marshall's invitation, a distinguished 
group of men formed a committee to 
advise the Construction Division "as 
to methods for future work." Members 
included John R. Alpine, representing 
the AFL; Frederick L. Cranford, presi- 
dent of the New York Association of 
Contractors; Charles T. Main, president 
of the American Society of Mechanical 
Engineers; John L. Mauran, president 
of the American Institute of Architects; 
Robert G. Rhett, president of the U.S. 
Chamber of Commerce; and Professor 
Arthur N. Talbot, president of the 
American Society of Civil Engineers. 76 
Reporting to Marshall on 15 March 
1 91 8, this panel endorsed the agreement 
drawn up by the Starrett committee. In 
their opinion, no other form of contract 
could meet the conditions imposed by 



"Ibid. 

'* Memo, Marshall for Coram to Review Emer- 
gency Contract, 14 Mar 18. Hist of the Constr Div, 
Part 3. 



the emergency. They summed up their 
conclusions : 

This scheme appeals to the committee as 
possessing one qualification which must com- 
mend it to all thinking men — it permits start- 
ing actual work weeks and even months be- 
fore the details are completely worked out 
and delineated and permits the Government 
to push the job at any speed it may elect, 
changing at will its plans and scope, but 
paying only what the work actually costs 
plus a fee which is so reasonable as to be 
above the reach of fairminded criticism. 77 

This stamp of approval, though widely 
publicized, failed to have the desired 
effect. 

Through the remaining months of 
war, criticism of the program mounted. 
Rare indeed was the Senator or Repre- 
sentative who could not produce a 
sheaf of letters from constituents, telling 
about discrimination in the award of 
contracts, inordinate waste of materials, 
outrageous wages, idling on the jobs, 
and other scandalous conditions. "Camp 
Contracts Given Big Firms Only, Is 
Charge" was front-page news. Magazine 
articles appeared bearing such tides as 
"Evils of Cost-plus Contracts." Amid 
the general outcry, bills were introduced 
to oudaw percentage contracts and 
demands were heard for fresh investi- 
gations. 78 The halls of Congress rang 
with angry declamations. "Worse than 
scandal" was the pejorative comment 
of Senator Porter J. McCumber on 
"the building of all of our cantonments." 
Senator William H. King called upon 
his colleagues "to give the small con- 
tractors a chance to get into the game" 



77 Ltr, Comm to Marshall, 15 Mar 18. Hist of the 
Constr Div, Part 3. 

78 (1) New York World, August 20, 191 8, p. 1. 

(2) P. Morse in Forum, August 7, 1918, pp. 60, 200. 

(3) 56 Cong. Rec. 7945, 7264, 7930, 4355. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



29 



and "to rescue the business of the country 
from a few enormous corporations and 
trusts." In the House, Representative 
Daniel R. Anthony, Jr., declared that 
"adoption of the cost-plus system" had 
"led to a veritable riot of waste and 
extravagance." 79 And Representative 
John C. McKenzie, an outspoken foe 
of construction "grafters," drew applause 
for the following remarks: 

When war comes, like snakes in the grass 
you can see their heads coming up every- 
where looking for an opportunity to rob 
their Government. O God, grant that such 
may not be the opportunity they may have, 
and may God pity each and every one of 
them and damn each and every one of them 
forever. 80 

In July 1 918, amid crescendoing 
complaints, Assistant Secretary Growell 
called into being the Board of Review 
of Construction. 81 Appointed to review 
the work, record the facts, and apply 
the lessons of the wartime building ef- 
fort were three respected figures in the 
industrial and financial world: Chair- 
man Francis Blossom was a partner 
in Sanderson & Porter, one of the coun- 
try's leading engineering firms; W. 
Sanders Davies was president of the 
American Institute of Accountants; 
Charles A. Morse headed the American 
Railway Engineering Association. Be- 
gun in September 1918, the board's 
investigation continued for almost a year. 
Scores of persons testified — officers of 
the Construction Division, members of 
the Starrett committee, heads of con- 
tracting firms, chiefs of using services, 
and many more. Records came in for 



11 Ibid., 5863, 5864, 7203. 
,e Ibid., 7209. 

n Ltr, Crowell to Blossom et a/., 24 Jul 18. Quoted 
in Blossom Report, p. 13. 



careful scrutiny. In the course of their 
inquiry, Blossom and his colleagues 
visited some fifty projects, where they 
questioned constructing quartermasters, 
engineers, contractors, auditors, super- 
intendents, foremen, and workmen. In 
August 1 91 9, they submitted their re- 
port to Crowell. 82 

The Blossom board gave the program 
a clean bill of health. Adoption of the 
emergency contract was fully justified. 
No other form of agreement could have 
produced the required results. Fees paid 
contractors were "exceedingly low as 
compared with the fees paid on prewar 
private construction." 83 There was no 
evidence to support charges of favoritism 
in making awards. There had been no 
profiteering. The high cost of the work 
was due to abnormal conditions, not to 
inefficiency or mismanagement. True, 
economy had been sacrificed for speed. 
But, said the board, "If the completion 
of these cantonments and camps in time 
to receive the army in September 191 7, 
and to house it during the extreme win- 
ter of 1 91 7-1 8 shortened the war by only 
one week, their total cost was saved." 84 

Blossom and his colleagues directed 
their most trenchant criticism against 
decentralization — the system whereby 
each federal agency handled its own 
construction. This arrangement, they 
declared, was "at variance with business 
practice" and "wrong in principle." 
Even within bureaus responsibility was 
divided; at the beginning of the war, the 
Ordnance Department alone had had 
five groups dabbling in construction. 
Consolidation seemed the logical solu- 



M Blossom Report, pp. 1 1— 1 6. 

ss Ibid,, p. 194. 

M Ibid., pp. 1 94, 286. 



30 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



tion. The board strongly recommended 
that all government construction, both 
military and civil, be centralized in a 
new department of public works. Dis- 
cussing the future of the Army Engineers, 
the members agreed: "It is unwise to ask 
the War Department to do any national 
construction and engineering work that 
civilians can do, because, in another 
war, its engineers will again be unable 
to handle such home work in addition 
to their military work." Asserting that 
the officers of the Corps were "outclassed 
by civilian engineers on most construc- 
tion work," the Blossom committee went 
on to state: "Satisfactory results in the 
war emergency construction have been 
accomplished largely by, and in degree 
proportionate to, the freeing of exper- 
ienced constructors from control by 
Army officers." 86 Published by the Gov- 
ernment Printing Office, the 380-page 
Report of the Board of Review of Construction 
bore the War Department's imprimatur. 

When the Republicans gained control 
of Congress in 191 8, more rigorous in- 
vestigations appeared certain. By the 
summer of 191 9 a select committee of 
the House, headed by Representative 
William J. Graham of Illinois, was 
ready to begin a full-dress inquiry into 
war expenditures. A subcommittee of 
two Republicans — John C. McKenzie 
of Illinois and Roscoe C. McCulloch of 
Ohio — and one Democrat — Frank E. 
Doremus of Michigan — was assigned to 
investigate construction. Chosen to 
head the subcommittee, McKenzie an- 
nounced his intention "to take up the 
question of the so-called emergency con- 
tract for the purpose of ascertaining why 
it was adopted to the exclusion of the 



Ibid., pp. 275, 276, 296-98. 



usual form of construction contract, who 
was responsible for its preparation, and 
whether or not such form of contract 
safeguarded the interest of the Govern- 
ment; and if not, why not?" 86 For the 
next six months, the McKenzie group 
probed for answers to these questions. 

Called before the subcommittee, high- 
ranking Engineer officers characterized 
the emergency construction contract as 
evil and unnecessary. Giving his views 
on cost-plus agreements, General 
Goethals stated: "I have always been 
opposed to them. It might have cost 
the Government a little more to do it 
by force [account], but there could never 
have been any criticism if they had had 
the proper men and put one in charge 
of each cantonment." General Black 
testified in much the same vein. 87 Col. 
Clarence O. Sherrill, recently returned 
from France where he had served as 
chief of staff of the 77th Division, said 
that the camps and cantonments could 
have been built faster and cheaper by 
purchase and hire. The thirty-five dis- 
trict offices of the Corps of Engineers 
could have started construction almost 
at a moment's notice. A telephone call 
from General Black would have put the 
machinery in motion. Neither contrac- 
tors nor cost-plus contracts would have 
had any part in the program. The 
cost-plus arrangement, Sherrill insisted, 
"is a dangerous one for the Government 
to use, and opens the door to both inef- 
ficiency and fraud." 88 

Members of the Starrett committee 
and the Construction Division em- 



88 H Subcomm 2 (Gamps) of the Select Comm on 
Expenditures in the WD, 66th Cong, ist sess, Hear- 
ings on War Expenditures, I, 869. 

"Ibid., pp. 1015, 1166-70. 

88 Ibid., pp. 2391-94. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



31 



phatically disagreed. Referring to the 
adoption of the emergency construction 
contract in the spring of 1917, Frederick 
Law Olmsted told the subcommittee: 
"I feel more confident now than I could 
possibly feel then of the fact that it was, 
on the whole, the wise thing to do in the 
case of the cantonment work with its 
extraordinary urgency." 86 Similar state- 
ments came from Olmsted's colleagues 
on the Emergency Construction Com- 
mittee and from General Marshall and 
his officers. Secretary Baker and top war 
production officials also defended the 
use of cost-plus contracts. Many of the 
country's foremost architects, engineers, 
and builders testified that the emergency 
agreement was the only solution to the 
Army's war construction problems. 

Late in October 1919 the subcommittee 
headed west to hold hearings at Colum- 
bus and Chillicothe, Ohio, and at Rock- 
ford, Illinois. More than seventy wit- 
nesses, carpenters, plumbers, auditors, 
timekeepers, teamsters, and laborers 
employed by A. Bentley & Sons at Camp 
Sherman and by Bates & Rogers at 
Camp Grant, took the stand. Their 
testimony told a sorry story of bartenders, 
schoolboys, mail clerks, and farmers 
hired as carpenters; of slow-down orders 
from contractors' foremen; of a perpetual 
crap game at Camp Sherman; of wasted 
lumber and buried kegs of nails. Despite 
denials by Constructing Quarter- 
masters and contractors' representatives, 
McKenzie seemed satisfied that un- 
pardonable waste and mismanagement 
had occurred. Returning to Washington 
on 17 November, he continued hearings 
until mid- January 1920. 90 During Feb- 



Ibid., p. 1073. 
•° Ibid., pp. 1 20 1 -2 1 10. 



ruary and March, subcommittee mem- 
bers labored over their reports, studying 
more than 3,000 pages of testimony taken 
from nearly 200 witnesses. 

The majority report sent to Chairman 
Graham on 1 April was a blistering in- 
dictment of the war construction effort. 
Conspiracy, usurpation, favoritism, profi- 
teering, fraud, reckless spending, and 
unconscionable waste — virtually every 
accusation ever voiced against the di- 
rectors of the program was contained in 
the eighty-eight conclusions set forth by 
McKenzie and McCulloch. Starrett was 
the villain of the piece. Knowingly and 
willfully, he and his associates had pre- 
empted the functions of responsible War 
Department officials. Their "first and 
most momentous" step had been the 
"unwarranted and illegal" suspension 
of competitive bidding. Adoption of the 
cost-plus contract was "without either 
excuse or legal justification." Vast 
amounts of public money had been 
wasted; at least $5 million could have 
been saved on each of the sixteen can- 
tonments had the program been properly 
administered. Partiality had been shown 
in awarding contracts; Starrett had gone 
so far as to give a cantonment to his own 
brother's firm. "Reckless and unlimited 
expenditures" had gone together with 
"exorbitant and unreasonable" profits; 
the more construction was made to cost, 
the higher were contractors' fees. Secre- 
tary Baker drew severe criticism on two 
counts: first, for failing to assign emer- 
gency construction "to the very excellent 
Corps of Engineers that had a large and 
varied experience, and was in touch with 
the industry, through its branches, 
throughout the country, and had at its 
command the pick of the engineers of 
the United States"; and, second, for 



32 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



giving Starrett a free hand. McKenzie 
and McCulloch recommended that cost- 
plus agreements be prohibited on govern- 
ment work, that the Secretary of War be 
required to advertise construction con- 
tracts even in emergencies, and that all 
military construction be transferred to 
the Corps of Engineers. They further 
recommended that the Constitution be 
amended so that war profiteers could 
be tried for treason. Finally, they recom- 
mended that the subcommittee's records 
and reports be turned over to the De- 
partment of Justice to be used as the 
basis for civil and criminal actions. 91 

The minority report, written by 
Doremus and signed by all the Demo- 
cratic members of the Graham com- 
mittee, was a point by point rebuttal 
of the majority statement. After defending 
the conduct of the program and exon- 
erating Starrett and the others, the 
minority presented two conclusions. 
First, Secretary Baker had acted wisely 
in abandoning peacetime contracting 
methods in favor of the cost-plus system; 
adherence to normal procedures "was 
not only impossible, but involved an 
element of danger that the Secretary of 
War could not have been warranted in 
incurring." Second, had "the views of 
the majority . . . been adopted at 
the beginning of the war, the whole 
building program would have been in 
a state of chaos, many of our troops would 
have perished with cold or died of dis- 
ease in the winter of 191 7, and the 
German Army would have been in Paris 
before our soldiers could have entered 
the battle lines." 95 The Republican 
Congress made short work of Doremus' 
report. 

On 13 April 1920 the House voted 



overwhelmingly to accept the majority 
report. 93 The files of the McKenzie 
subcommittee went to the Justice De- 
partment. Wilson's attorney general, A. 
Mitchell Palmer, was not about to leave 
off combatting the "Red Menace" and 
turn prosecutor for the Republicans. 
What use the next administration would 
make of these files remained to be seen. 

The Compromise of ig2o 

Which agency should build for the 
Army? After the Armistice, when Con- 
gress considered plans for the postwar 
military establishment, four possibilities 
lay open: continue the Construction 
Division as an independent branch; 
assign the work to the Corps of Engineers; 
return the function to The Quartermas- 
ter General; or entrust military con- 
struction to a new department of public 
works. Each of these proposals had 
powerful advocates. In their fight to 
perpetuate the separate construction 
corps, General Marshall and his officers 
had the backing of Assistant Secretary 
Crowell. In its aspirations, the Corps of 
Engineers had the support of Secretary 
Baker and Chief of Staff March. Among 
those who favored turning construction 
back to the Quartermaster Corps was 
the victorious commander of the Ameri- 
can Expeditionary Force (AEF), General 
John J. Pershing. Many of the country's 
leading civilian engineers were vigorous 
proponents of a public works depart- 
ment. As it prepared to legislate the 
size and organization of the peacetime 
Army, Congress came under extreme 
pressure from these contending factions. 

Prospects for a department of public 
works had never seemed so bright as in 



" H Rpt 816, 66th Cong, 2d sess, 1 Apr 20. 
" Submitted with H Rpt 816. 



" 59 Cong. Rec. 5620-21. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



33 



April 1 91 9, when representatives of 
seventy-four engineering societies and 
contractors associations met in Chicago 
to form the National Public Works 
Department Association (NPWDA) . 
Marshall O. Leighton, pioneer con- 
servationist and member of the Ameri- 
can Engineering Council, became presi- 
dent. Milton E. Ailes, vice president 
of the Riggs National Bank of Washing- 
ton, took over the post of treasurer. 
Francis Blossom headed the finance 
committee. The goal of the association 
was to bring about a merger of the six- 
teen federal construction agencies, in- 
cluding the Rivers and Harbors Service 
of the Corps of Engineers and the Con- 
struction Division of the Army. A com- 
mittee drafted legislation which was in- 
troduced in Congress in June 191 9. The 
industry threw its full weight behind this 
measure, the Jones-Reavis bill. Her- 
bert C. Hoover and other noted en- 
gineers urged its passage. Pledges of 
support came from distinguished edu- 
cators and prominent politicians. Com- 
mittees from every state tried to line up 
Congressional delegations behind the 
proposition. The newly organized As- 
sociated General Contractors (AGC), 
the first national association of its kind, 
joined the crusade. And although they 
advocated a separate Army construc- 
tion corps as the best arrangement within 
the War Department framework, 
Marshall and his officers heartily en- 
dorsed the proposal for a national de- 
partment of public works. 94 



94 ( 1 ) Engineering News-Record, vol. 8a (January- 
June 1 919), p. 855; vol. 83 (July-December 1919), 
pp. 149, 968. Cited hereinafter as ENR. (2) The 
Bulletin of the AGC, January 1920, p. 18; February 
1920, p. 40; October 1919, p. 44. (3) John J. Lenney, 
Caste System in the American Army: A Study of the Corps 
of Engineers and Their West Point System (New York: 
Greenbcrg, 1949), pp. 63-66. 



Three weeks before the introduction 
of the Jones-Reavis bill, another bill 
"to establish an Auxiliary Engineer 
Corps" was placed in the hopper. Of- 
fered by Senator Joseph E. Ransdell 
of Louisiana, president of the Rivers and 
Harbors Congress since 1905, this mea- 
sure had originated with employees of 
the New Orleans Engineer District. In 
addition to river, harbor, and flood 
control work, the auxiliary corps would 
handle construction of highways, bridges, 
and other federal improvements. Con- 
demning the Ransdell bill as "the first 
step in the attempt ... to militarize 
the public works of the Federal govern- 
ment," NPWDA president Leighton 
wrote in the Engineering Mews-Record: 
"The long-expected response of the 
Corps of Engineers ... to the ac- 
tivities of the engineers, architects and 
constructors of the country looking to- 
ward the establishment of a National 
Department of Public Works has been 
made." This statement drew from Gen- 
eral Black a sharp denial that he had 
any connection with the measure. 95 
Nevertheless, the incident served to 
highlight the bitter conflict between the 
Corps and sponsors of a public works 
department — a conflict that eventually 
forced a compromise on the military 
construction issue. 

During the late summer of 191 9, Con- 
gress took up the matter of the peace- 
time military organization. In August, 
upon the recommendation of Secretary 
Baker, identical bills were laid before 
the House and Senate, calling for an 
Army of 538,296, making permanent the 
wartime separation of transportation, 
motor transport, and finance from the 



'* (1) ENR, vol. 82 (January-June 1919^ p. 1232. 
(2) Ibid., vol. 83 (July-December 1919), p. 141. 



34 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Quartermaster Corps, and assigning con- 
struction to the Corps of Engineers. 
Maintenance and utilities were split off 
from construction and put back under 
The Quartermaster General. A month 
later Representative S. Hubert Dent of 
Alabama sponsored a measure setting 
the strength of the Army at 312,400 and 
reconstituting the Quartermaster Corps 
as it had been before the war. Hearings 
before the Military Affairs Committees 
began in the fall of 191 9 and continued 
into the winter. 

To General March fell the main task 
of explaining why the Corps of Engineers 
ought to do construction. Should Con- 
gress approve a 50o,ooo-man force, the 
Army would have to renovate temporary 
barracks and quarters, and, ultimately, 
build permanent housing. The Quarter- 
master Corps lacked technically trained 
officers; the detail system ruled out 
specialization. An artilleryman could be 
detailed to the Quartermaster Corps 
and put to building barracks. "That is 
his job," said March, "but he knows 
nothing about that kind of work." It 
was different with the Engineers. Con- 
struction was their business. All military 
construction, the Chief of Staff declared, 
should be in their hands. 96 Supplementing 
March's testimony, Secretary Baker and 
high-ranking officers, including Maj. 
Gen. Frank W. Coe, Chief of the Coast 
Artillery Corps, and Maj. Gen. George 
W. Burr, director of PS&T, propounded 
the official view. 97 

Maj. Gen. Harry L. Rogers, The 
Quartermaster General, found himself 



"H Comm on Mil Affs, 66th Cong, 1st scss, 
Hearings on H R 8287, p. 95. 

,7 (i) Ibid., pp. 1788, 1037. (2) S Comm on Mil 
Affs, 66th Cong, 1 st sess, Hearings on S 2715, Part 4, 
pp. 218-19. 



in an awkward position. Military law 
forbade his publicly opposing Baker and 
March. Yet it was difficult for him to 
keep silent and acquiesce in a plan to 
emasculate his department. Rogers was 
particularly anxious to retain responsi- 
bility for transportation. When he came 
before the Senate committee on 3 Sep- 
tember 1 91 9, he at first declined to make 
"any replies that would be in the nature 
of expressions of opinions different from 
those of my superior officers"; but when 
Chairman James W. Wadsworth urged 
him to speak candidly, Rogers flatly 
said that transportation, finance, and 
construction "should be just as they were 
before the war." 9 ' 

Unlike Rogers, General Marshall had 
no hesitancy in opposing the Secretary 
and the Chief of Staff. Before the Senate 
committee, he argued forcefully for a 
permanent construction corps. First, he 
contended, construction, a civilian under- 
taking, should not be assigned to the 
"strictly military" Corps of Engineers: 

To place the Construction Division under 
the Engineer Corps would delegate to the 
latter work for which it is not qualified either 
by experience or training. To do so would 
be unsound in theory and untried in fact. 
The Engineer Corps has never done the con- 
struction work for the Army. 

Second, the Construction Division should 
not come under The Quartermaster 
General: 

To return the Construction Division to the 
Quartermaster Corps would place upon the 
Quartermaster Corps an added burden which 
it should not be called upon to carry. The 
Quartermaster Corps will be tremendous as 
it is, its volume of work at least three times 
what it was previous to the war. . . . No 



99 S Comm on Mil Affs, 66th Cong, ist sess, 
Hearings on S 27 15, Part 1 1, pp. 544, 546. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



35 



commercial concern in this country would 
jeopardize the efficiency and economy with 
which this . . . work is to be done by 
placing it as a subdivision of a subdivision. 
It is entitled to and must have direct access 
to final authority in the interest of efficiency 
and cutting of red tape. 

Third, and last, the Construction Di- 
vision should be continued as a separate 
staff corps: 

In the interest of economy, in the interest 
of preserving to the Government the business 
methods of the Construction Division; to 
make available to the Government the ex- 
perience gained by having carried forward 
to successful completion the greatest con- 
struction program in the world and the 
experience gained by the greatest utility 
organization known to this country; in order 
to organize this purely commercial function 
of the War Department in keeping with 
common-sense business practice of the 
commercial world, there must be 

included a separate staff unit known as a 
Construction Corps .... 

Marshall then offered an amendment 
to the Senate bill incorporating his 
views." Appearing at his own request 
before the House committee, he en- 
larged on his testimony before the Senate 
and made one additional point: "If 
utilities and construction were to . . . 
be under any bureau of the War De- 
partment, it would be distinctly in the 
interest of the Government for it to be 
made a part of the Quartermaster 
Corps." 100 

Others raised their voices against the 
War Department proposal to give con- 
struction to the Engineers. Testifying 
before the Senate group, William W. 



"* S Subcomm of the Comm on Mil Affs, 66th 
Cong, ist sess, Hearings on S 2715, Part 22, pp. 1414- 
16, 1 389-1 427, passim. 

100 H Comm on Mil Affs, 66th Gong, ist sess, 
Hearings on H R 8287, I, 1710, 1697-1739, passim. 



Atterbury, operating vice president of 
the Pennsylvania Railroad and, during 
the war, a brigadier general in charge 
of rail transportation in France, had 
this to say: 

From the standpoint of the Army it is a 
mistake to take "the cream off the jar of 
milk" and put them in the Engineer Corps. 
Then you send them to a school, after which 
the Engineers are put out on civil work. The 
result is that you have produced neither engi- 
neers nor soldiers. That is perhaps a little 
exaggerated, but I say they are not engineers 
because when out on general work, their 
work is done by civilians. The work ordi- 
narily done by the Corps of Engineers . . ., 
buildings and river and harbor work, should 
be done by a civilian organization under a 
civilian department. 

Although he conceded that military 
engineering — fortifications and the like — 
was best left to military engineers, 
Atterbury recommended that the Corps 
be excluded from all other types of 
construction. 101 Senator Chamberlain, 
opposed to dismembering that "great 
supply organization," the Quartermaster 
Corps, made the comment: "To transfer 
to the Engineer Corps the duties of 
construction and repair that from the 
earliest days of the Army have formed a 
natural and important part of the duties 
of the Quartermaster's Department 
. . . apparently is satisfactory only to 
the Engineer Corps." 102 

To help resolve the controversy, the 
committee invited Generals Wood and 
Pershing to testify. Now, as earlier, Wood 
wished to see construction in the Corps 
of Engineers. "You can," he told the 
Senate group, "I think, very wisely go 



101 S Comm on Mil Affs, 66th Cong, ist sess, Hear- 
ings an S 2715, Part 8, p. 439. 

102 S Comm- Print, 66th Cong, ist sess, Army 
Reorganisation Bill, 5 Sep ig, p. 20. 



36 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



back to the Quartermaster Corps and 
charge that corps with transportation, 
clothing, food, and pay, and take con- 
struction away from it and put it under 
the Engineers . . . the only trained 
construction corps we have." 103 In an 
exchange with Chairman Julius Kahn 
of the House Military Affairs Committee, 
Pershing took a different stand: 

Mr. Kahn. General, as I understand you, 
you recommend that the construction corps 
be continued as a part of the Quartermaster's 
Department. 

General Pershing. Yes; it should have an 
organization similar to the one it has now, 
and I have no doubt that the Quartermaster 
General would simply embody it as it stands, 
as a part of his organization. That would be 
the logical and rational thing for him to do. 

Mr. Kahn. It would not disrupt the Con- 
struction Corps if we were to transfer it? 

General Pershing. I should think not at 
all. 104 

Among the last to testify was Benedict 
Crowell, who made a strong plea for an 
independent construction corps. Ap- 
pearing before the House committee 
on 9 January 1920, he stated: 

The main argument against the retention 
of the Construction Division seems to be one 
of expense. I have never been able to see, 
however, how the work could be done any 
cheaper by any other set of men. The plans 
of the Construction Division call for con- 
struction officers only to be located in the 
large posts .... The small repairs 
to the small posts could still be left to the 
quartermasters as they were in the old days. 

When Congressman Anthony referred 
to reports by efficiency experts "giving 
figures, showing savings of a great many 
millions of dollars" to be brought about 



w 'Ibid., Part 13, p. 637. 

104 H Co mm on Mil Affs, 66th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings on H R 8287, I, 154a. 



by consolidating functions, Crowell re- 
plied : 

It is easy to say that by this consolidation 
we can save a lot of money. I have heard 
that many times. 

You may have a few men out here digging 
a ditch and over in another place you may 
have a few men sawing wood. But by the 
consolidation of the men digging the ditch 
and the men sawing the wood you would not 
make any saving. Many of the consolidations 
proposed in the War Department are on a 
parallel with that. 

One consolidation Crowell did favor 
was that of real estate with construction. 
Emphasizing the close relationship be- 
tween the two, he said, "One can hardly 
be handled if separated from the other." 
Discussing proposals for an Under Secre- 
tary to have charge of the business side 
of the War Department, Crowell stressed 
the commercial character of both military 
construction and military real estate. 105 
When the hearings ended, Congres- 
sional opinion remained sharply divided 
on the issue of construction. A majority 
of the Senate committee proved to be 
receptive to the arguments advanced by 
Marshall and Crowell. On 27 January 
Chairman Wadsworth reported out a 
bill continuing the Construction Di- 
vision as an independent branch. The 
measure also provided for a separate 
transportation corps and a separate 
finance corps. A minority report filed 
by Senator McKellar, who objected to 
the perpetuation of these separate 
branches, revealed the committee's lack 
of unanimity. After a heated debate, 
in which Engineer and separate corps 
partisans were beaten down, the House 
Military Affairs Committee voted in 
favor of the Quartermaster Corps. In 



Wi lbid., II, 1824, 1819-20, 1825. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



37 



late February Chairman Kahn reported 
out a bill returning to The Quarter- 
master General all of his prewar func- 
tions, except finance, which would be a 
separate department. 106 Both commit- 
tees had rejected Baker's proposal to put 
construction under the Engineers. As 
the bills reached the floor, the scene ap- 
peared to be set for a battle royal. 

Although the committees had turned 
down his recommendation on construc- 
tion, Secretary Baker was not ready to 
accept defeat. Toward the end of Febru- 
ary he asked his staff to prepare an order 
transferring construction to the Corps of 
Engineers. He then left Washington on a 
short trip. While he was away, a draft 
of the order went to Acting Secretary 
Crowell, who pigeonholed it. Upon 
Baker's return, Crowell informed him 
that many of General Marshall's of- 
ficers would resign if the order took ef- 
fect. Since the Construction Division 
still had a sizable program under way, 
the threat was a real one. Regretfully, 
Baker suspended the order and left the 
decision to Congress. 107 

As their hopes of absorbing the Con- 
struction Division dimmed, the En- 
gineers found themselves on the defen- 
sive. Since the fall of 191 9, the campaign 
for a public works department had 
gained momentum. Recognizing the 
Corps as their great adversary, leaders 
of the NPWDA adopted a dual strategy: 
first, to save the Construction Division 
of the Army; and, second, to demolish 
the arguments in favor of having rivers 
and harbors under the Engineers. 
Speeches, bulletins, pamphlets, press re- 



10t (i) S Rpt 400, 66th Cong, 2d sess. (2) 5g 
Cong. Rec. 4205. (3) H Rpt 680, 66th Cong, 2d sess. 

101 Ltr, Baker to McKenzie, io Mar 20. Reprinted 
in 59 Cong. Rec. 4226. 



leases, articles — Leighton and his staff 
pumped out a steady stream of propa- 
ganda. To transfer the Construction 
Division to the Engineers would be 
absurd; "civilian work totaling a hundred 
million dollars a year [would fall] into 
the hands of men with no training and 
experience along these lines." 108 To con- 
tinue "militaristic control" over civil 
works was unsound. 109 The Engineers' 
civil projects were "much too costly, 
their procedure inefficient, and their 
training too narrow and inbred." The 
logic that they must have civil work in 
time of peace as training for their war- 
time mission was no longer valid. In 
France Engineer Regulars had per- 
formed non-Engineer duties. Line of- 
ficers had laid out the trenches, the 
principal field works of the war. A ci- 
vilian-manned construction corps had 
carried out a vast building program be- 
hind the lines. The Engineers in the AEF 
had been superfluous. Militarily, the 
Corps was defunct 110 — or so its oppo- 
nents maintained. 

By early 1920, the offensive seemed to 
be gaining ground. In January ninety- 
five delegates, representing societies with 
a membership of 90,000, met in Washing- 
ton for a second NPWDA conference. A 
roll call indicated strong support in 
Congress; two states reported their en- 
tire delegations pledged to support the 
Jones-Reavis bill. Senators and Repre- 
sentatives threw open their doors. The 



108 NPWDA Bulletin, November 26, 1919. Quoted 
in Lenney, Caste System in the American Army, p. 48. 

109 Testimony of Professor G. F. Swain, Harvard 
University, 1 1 Feb 20. In S Gomm on Public Lands, 
66th Cong, 2d sess, Hearings on S 2236, p. 14. 

110 National Public Works Department Association, 
This Tells Why the Government Should Have a Department 
of Public Works (Washington: NWPDA, 191 9), pp. 
23-26. 



38 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



conference heard addresses by Governor 
Frank O. Lowden of Illinois, whose state 
was one of several with a public works 
department; by Representative Reavis, 
the author of the bill; by Mr. Leighton, 
who referred to "our effort, our idea, 
our legislative bill" as "the cornerstone 
of a structure embodying efficiency in 
all departments of Government"; and 
by General Marshall, who urged crea- 
tion of the new department as "the most 
constructive step in the history of Govern- 
ment work." The gathering broke up 
on an optimistic note. 111 On 1 1 February 
the Senate Committee on Public Lands 
opened hearings on the Jones-Reavis 
bill. 112 On the 17th, speaking before the 
Mining and Metallurgical Engineers 
in New York City, Herbert Hoover re- 
iterated his support of the measure. 113 
At an AGC conference a few days later, 
members reported that sentiment in 
favor of the bill was growing rapidly. 114 
On 8 March 1920, when the House 
took up the Army reorganization bill, 
General Marshall's officers packed the 
galleries. Noting their presence, one 
representative observed: "I have never 
in all the history of Congress seen such 
a lobby as there has been in an effort to 
make this a separate corps." 115 In a sur- 
prise move, Representative Thomas W. 
Harrison of Virginia read into the record 
a recent letter from Secretary Baker to 
Chairman Kahn, endorsing the plan for 
an independent construction corps. The 



m ( 1 ) The Bulletin of the AGC, January 1 92 o, p. 18; 
February ig2o, p. 40. (2) EMR, vol. 84 (January- 
June 1920), pp. 169-70, 292. (3) Lcnney, Caste 
System in the American Army, p, 67. 

lu S Comm on Public Lands, 66. h Cong, 2d sess, 
Hearings on S 2236, 1 1 Feb 20. 

113 ENR, vol. 84 (Januar.y-June 1920), p. 418. 

111 The Bulletin of the AGC, March rg2o, pp. 43-44. 

ue 59 Cong. Rec. 4205. 



climax came on 1 1 March, when Repre- 
sentative Rollin B. Sanford of New York 
offered an amendment making per- 
manent the Construction Division of 
the Army. Speaking in support of this 
rider, Congressman Reavis argued that 
military engineering was obsolete. "The 
great monuments of the Army engineers 
of the past withered before the march 
of the Germans in the first Battle of the 
Marne," he said, "The fortifications 
and forts of Belgium and France were of 
no service." Continuing, he observed: 

Among the very great Army Engineers 
that we had in the Army when that sort of 
situation came up was General Harts, a very 
great engineer. He was made provost mar- 
shal in Paris. General Sibert, to whom the 
world will always be indebted for his services 
in the Panama Canal construction, was put 
in charge of chemical warfare in Washing- 
ton. General Biddle was put in charge of our 
troops in England, and in their places we 
put on the work at the front and behind the 
front civilian engineers, who knew road 
building, who knew railroads, who knew the 
building of bridges, who knew water supply, 
and sanitation; we put them in a construction 
corps, and their work in France is among the 
marvelous things that America did in that 
country during this war. 118 

Although the House applauded the 
mention of General Sibert's name, it 
proceeded to adopt the Sanford amend- 
ment by a vote of 1 33 to 74. Both houses 
now had before them bills favoring the 
separate corps. To many it appeared that 
Marshall's battle was won. 

But Maj. Gen. Lansing H. Beach, who 
had succeeded Black as Chief of Engi- 
neers in January, was determined to 
fight to the finish. Upon learning of the 



"* 59 Cong. Rec. 4226. The officers to whom Reavis 
referred were Brig. Gen. William W. Harts; Brig. 
Gen. William Sibert; and Maj. Gen. John Biddlc. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



39 



House action, he went at once to Secre- 
tary Baker. On 12 March, the same day 
the amendment carried, the Secretary 
repudiated the letter read by Mr. 
Harrison. In a letter to Chairman Kahn, 
Baker stated: "Through inadvertence 
the full purport . . . escaped my 
notice and I desire at once to correct 
any erroneous impression it may have 
conveyed as to my attitude." He strongly 
urged that construction go to the Corps 
of Engineers. 117 On the 13th Beach called 
attention to serious errors of fact in Mr. 
Reavis' remarks. There was no Con- 
struction Corps in the AEF. Virtually 
all construction in France was done by 
the Engineers. Generals Harts, Sibert, 
and Biddle were promoted out of the 
Corps for "meritorious service." 118 On 
the 17th Beach reached an agreement 
with General Rogers: the Engineers 
would back the Quartermaster effort 
to obtain transportation, finance, and 
maintenance and utilities; The Quarter- 
master General would support the En- 
gineers' contention that construction be- 
longed in their Corps. 119 The following 
day General Pershing made a strong 
statement on the Engineers' behalf. 
Holding that the Engineers should not 
be "deprived of the credit justly due 
them for the energy and skill" they had 
displayed as the sole construction arm of 
the AEF, Pershing wrote: 

If Congress is indisposed to return the work 
to the Quartermaster Corps, it might with 
equal advantage be confided to the Corps 
of Engineers, which I know to have proved 
itself competent to perform the task promptly, 



economically, and to the satisfaction of the 
Army and the country. The long and honor- 
able record of able, honest, and faithful ser- 
vice of the Corps of Engineers is one of which 
the entire Army, and the United States it- 
self, may well be proud, and I feel sure that 
no mistake will be made if all military con- 
struction is, in the United States as it was in 
France, given to that Corps. 120 

On the 1 8th the House, reversing its 
stand, voted to strike out the Sanford 
amendment and passed the committee 
bill returning construction to the Quar- 
termaster Corps. 

Having blocked the separate corps in 
the House, Beach hoped to go on to win 
the Senate vote. Initially, he tried to gain 
the support of Senator Wadsworth. Two 
of the top-ranking Engineers in the AEF, 
Maj. Gen. William C. Langfitt and Maj. 
Gen. Mason M. Patrick, went in person 
to ask that Wadsworth sponsor an amend- 
ment favoring the Corps, Making the 
same request in writing, General Beach 
inclosed a draft of the proposed rider 
and copies of his correspondence with 
General Rogers. Secretary Baker also 
urged the Senator to back the Engi- 
neers. 121 When Wadsworth rejected these 
advances, another champion was found. 
On 13 April Senator Irvine L. Lenroot 
of Wisconsin moved to strike out the pro- 
vision in the committee bill which called 
for a separate corps and announced that 
if his motion carried he would propose 
that construction be placed where it 
belonged — in the Corps of Engineers. 
The highlight of the debate was a speech 
by Senator Wadsworth, flaying Generals 
Beach and Rogers. Behind the scenes, 



117 Ltr, Baker to Kahn, ia Mar ao. Martin Papers 
in EHD. 

UB Ltr, Beach to Kahn, 1 3 Mar ao. Martin Papers. 
Ilt (i) Ltr, Beach to Rogers, 17 Mar ao. (a) Ltr, 
Rogers to Beach, even date. Both in Martin Papers. 



1,0 Ltr, Pershing to Kahn, 18 Mar ao. Martin 
Papers. 

l!I (0 Ltr, Beach to Wadsworth, 19 Mar ao. 
Martin Papers, (a) Ltr, Baker to Wadsworth, 39 
Mar ao. AG 01 t-oia.a. 



40 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Wadsworth charged, a fierce struggle 
for power had raged between the two. 
But when both realized they were losing, 
they had joined forces to squelch the 
separate corps. Wadsworth advised his 
colleagues to turn down the Lenroot 
amendment. 122 The decision came on 14 
April; Lenroot was defeated. Six days 
later the Senate passed the committee 
bill providing for an independent con- 
struction corps. 

With the Engineers out of the run- 
ning, the choice was between the Con- 
struction Division of the Army and the 
Quartermaster Corps. There could be 
no question as to which General Beach 
preferred. When the House and Senate 
conferees made their report late in May, 
he could take heart from their decision. 
Along with transportation, construction 
and real estate were assigned to General 
Rogers' department. Both houses ac- 
cepted the conferees' version of the bill, 
and on 4 June President Wilson signed it 
into law. In his order transferring con- 
struction, Secretary Baker directed that 
the Construction Service be "organized 
and operated as a separate service of the 
Quartermaster Corps." 128 Implicit in 
this directive was the idea that con- 
struction might be lifted out again in 
another emergency. The new arrange- 
ment was a compromise; how long it 
would endure only time could tell. To 
the Engineer way of thinking, the Quar- 
termaster Corps was a supply organiza- 
tion. What was needed was a branch 
whose sole duty would be construction. 
That branch ought to be the Corps of 
Engineers. From this premise, no Chief 
of Engineers ever wavered. 



1M 59 Cong. Ree. 5600-5612, 5650, 5894. 
1,8 WD GO 42, 1 4 Jul 20. 



When the Construction Division of 
the Army went down in defeat, the 
drive for a national department of public 
works was temporarily blunted. As the 
civilians who had joined up in 191 7 re- 
turned to their firms, pressure on Con- 
gress relaxed. According to Leighton's 
recollection, two or three "old fellows, 
fierce folk who would speak out," con- 
tinued the battle. But Marshall's officers, 
on whose backing Leighton had counted 
heavily, left him in the lurch. When 
Congress adjourned early in June, on 
the eve of the Republican national con- 
vention, the Jones-Reavis bill died in 
committee. But the "dream," as Leighton 
called it, was far from ended. 124 Pro- 
ponents of a public works department 
would be heard from again. 

The Construction Division was dis- 
banding. One by one the officers were 
saying farewell. General Marshall was 
resigning from the Army to become 
managing director of the Associated 
General Contractors. Colonel Hartman, 
the one remaining regular, was at- 
tempting to sign up temporary officers 
for permanent service in the Quarter- 
master Corps. The spirit of the wartime 
organization was preserved in a song to 
be' sung to the tune of "Hinkey Dinkey 
Parlez-Vous." Evoking memories of their 
warm comradery: 

"We fought the war with Gen- 
eral Puck's Construction 
Crew, 

The only French we ever 
learned was 'Entre Nous'" 

and glorying in their accomplishment: 

"We made a dollar look like 
a dime, 

m Interv with Marshall O. Leighton, a Apr 57. 
See also The Bulletin of the AGC, August 1920, p. 33. 



LEGACY OF WORLD WAR I 



41 



But all the camps were done 
on time, 

By General Puck's Construc- 
tion Crew" 

the singers ended with a promise: 

"And if we have another war, 
They'll only have to signal for 
General Puck's Construction 
Crew." 126 



Reprinted in The Homecomer, December 3, 1937, 



On that note the Construction Division 
of the Army passed into history. 

American experience in the First 
World War had demonstrated con- 
clusively the vital role of construction 
in modern-day mobilization and the 
decisive importance to national security 
of a strong construction force in being. 
Unfortunately, lessons taught are not 
always lessons learned. A second, graver 
emergency would have to arise before 
these truths were grasped and translated 
into action. 



CHAPTER II 

Lean Years 



The years following World War I 
were famine years for the War Depart- 
ment, as the American people reverted 
to their traditional postwar custom of 
reducing a fighting army to a skeleton 
force. The war to end war had been 
fought and won. Disarmament, neu- 
trality, and isolationism were widely 
accepted as desirable and attainable 
goals. The twenties, with their return 
to normalcy and balanced budgets, 
brought sharp retrenchment in military 
spending. The great depression of the 
thirties directed attention away from 
problems of national security to prob- 
lems of national recovery. As the Army 
dwindled to virtual insignificance, the 
military plant decayed and military 
vision clouded. Efficiency was sacrificed 
to economy. Planning tended to become 
increasingly unrealistic. The Construc- 
tion Service of the Quartermaster Corps, 
like most of the Army, suffered from the 
effects of governmental parsimony and 
public indifference. 

The Construction Service labored 
under even cruder handicaps. As a sub- 
division of a multipurpose supply or- 
ganization, it was at a serious disad- 
vantage. Its chief, one of three brigadier 
generals in the Quartermaster Corps, 
was selected on the basis of seniority; 
no engineering background was re- 
quired. "It was sometimes difficult," 
one construction officer recalled, "to get 
technical matters across to our superi- 



ors." 1 Maintaining a staff of technically 
competent officers was also difficult. 
Such men were often reluctant to serve 
in a corps which might assign them to 
wagon companies, remount depots, or 
graves registration duty; and the Gen- 
eral Staff showed little inclination to 
place good officers in Quartermaster 
vacancies. Moreover, the status of the 
service was at times affected by the onus 
of criticism which attached to its war- 
time predecessor, and its future seemed 
filled with uncertainties. As the public 
works controversy waxed hotter, as 
powerfui forces battled for high stakes, 
rumors periodically swept through the 
Construction Service: "The Engineers 
are going to grab us." 2 

That many problems could have been 
avoided by placing military construction 
under the Engineers is beyond doubt. 
A specialist corps, with a large contin- 
uing program of rivers, harbors, and 
flood control projects, and the chosen 
branch of most top West Point graduates, 
the Corps of Engineers was in a far more 
advantageous position than the Con- 
struction Service. But despite strong 
arguments in favor of a transfer, the 
compromise of 1920 endured for two 
decades, as circumstances combined to 
preserve the status quo. 

1 Comments of Brig Gen Wilmot A. Danielson on 
MS, Constr in the United States, 1959, p. 55. Cited 
hereinafter as Danielson Comments. 

* Interv with Miss Winnie W. Cox, 1 o Sep 56. 



LEAN YEARS 



43 



The Construction Service, 1920-1938 

When, on 15 July 1920, the Con- 
struction Division of the Army became 
the Construction Service of the Quarter- 
master Corps, the future appeared bright. 
For the first time in the Army's history, 
all military construction, except forti- 
fications work, was centralized in one 
permanent organization. Also for the 
first time, on-the-job construction was 
centrally controlled, as Constructing 
Quartermasters reported directly to The 
Quartermaster General rather than to 
commanders in the field. Never before 
had the Quartermaster Corps been so 
rich in construction talent. Ninety of- 
ficers of the wartime division accepted 
permanent commissions, and their ranks 
were swelled by the transfer of tech- 
nically trained officers from other 
branches and the assignment of a number 
of fine Quartermaster Regulars to the 
Construction Service. A staff of highly 
competent civilians was an important 
legacy from General Marshall's organiza- 
tion. A 42.6-million-dollar program, com- 
prising 139 projects, was on the books 
in mid- 1 920, and prospects for a large 
continuing program seemed good. 3 
Authorized under the Defense Act of 
1920 was a force of 280,000 men, over 
two and one-half times the size of the pre- 
war Army. 

Designed as a separate element of the 
Quartermaster Corps, the Construction 
Service was self-contained and distinc- 
tive. In the Washington office, three 
major divisions, Construction, Main- 
tenance and Utilities, and Real Estate, 
were supported by Administrative, Fis- 
cal, Legal, and Planning Branches. Re- 



s Report of the Chief of the Construction Division, igso 
(Washington, 1920), p. 7. 



cently established district headquarters 
at Washington, San Antonio, San Fran- 
cisco, Honolulu, and Manila were in- 
dependent of other Quartermaster field 
offices. 4 From mid- 1920 through 1938, 
eleven Chiefs of Construction, 6 known 
unofficially as Constructing Quarter- 
masters General, ruled over "a kingdom 
in itself." A companionable, close-knit 
group, the members of the service formed 
"a sort of club." The separation of con- 
struction from other Quartermaster ac- 
tivities was reinforced by a corps-wide 
policy announced in 1921. Recognizing 
"that the highest efficiency can only be 
attained by the training and develop- 
ment of specialists and the intelligent 
use of such specialists," the Acting 
Quartermaster General wrote: "Every 
effort should be made ... to 
utilize to best advantage the services of 
specialists and in the lines in which they 
have specialized." 8 

The fortunes of the service suffered 
an early decline. The inauguration of 
President Harding ushered in an era of 
strictest economy in military spending. 
The enlisted strength of the Regular 
Army fell to 132,106 by July 1922 and 
to 118,348 a year later. Not until the 
mid-1930's would the strength exceed 
130,00c 7 On 1 August 1 92 1 Secretary of 



*(i) OQMG Circ n, a8 Jul 20. (a) OQMG 
Office Memo 119, 30 Aug ai. (3) Constr Div Office 
Order 31a, a I Jun 20. 

4 They were : Brig. Gen. John M. Carson, Col. 
Edward S. Walton (Acting), Brig. Gen. John T. 
Knight, Brig. Gen. Albert C. Dalton, Brig. Gen. M. 
Gray Zalinski, Brig. Gen. Arthur W. Yates, Brig. 
Gen. William S. Horton, Brig. Gen. Winthrop S. 
Wood, Brig. Gen. Louis H. Bash, Brig. Gen. Patrick 
W. Guiney, and Brig. Gen. A. Owen Seaman. 

« OQMG Circ 20, 31 Oct 21. 

7 Mark Skinner Watson, Chief of Staff: Prewar Plans 
and Preparations, UNITED STATES ARMY IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1950), p. 16. 



44 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



War John W. Weeks imposed a ceiling 
of $500 on expenditures which could 
be made on "any building or military 
post or grounds" without his approval. 8 
Later that month he laid down the policy 
which would govern construction for the 
next six years: "No permanent construc- 
tion will be undertaken where perma- 
nent construction can be postponed and 
only such repairs and temporary con- 
struction necessary will be considered." 9 
From 1 92 1 through 1926 funds voted 
for construction at military posts totaled 
$4,535,357. an average of but $755,893 
per year. Most of this money went for 
a few big projects: Camp Benning, 
Georgia, and Camp Lewis, Washington; 
Edgewood Arsenal in Maryland; the 
disciplinary barracks at Fort Leaven- 
worth, Kansas; a reservoir and a re- 
frigeration plant for the Hawaiian gar- 
rison; and a large warehouse at Gatun, 
Canal Zone. During this same period, 
$4,725,760 was appropriated for con- 
struction and repair of hospitals. The 
total provided for maintenance and 
utilities in these years, $29,452,217, 
though comparatively large, was woe- 
fully inadequate for the tasks at hand. 10 
Meantime, Weeks was moving to 
divest the Army of surplus war proper- 
ties. He placed nine camps and canton- 
ments built in 191 7 and 191 8 in care- 
taking status to be used as training 
grounds for the nine corps areas; 11 he 



8 WD GO 36, 1 Aug 21. 

•Ltr, TAG to Chiefs of Brs, 26 Aug 21. 600.1 
Part 1. 

l * Summary of Appns, Constr Div OQ_MG, 1920— 
40, 13 Sep 41. EHD Files. Cited hereinafter as 
Summary of Appns, 1920-40. 

11 These corps area training centers were : Devens, 
Mass. (First); Dix, N.J. (Second); Meade, Md. 
(Third); McClellan, Ala. (Fourth); Knox, Ky. 
(Fifth); Custer, Mich. (Sixth); Funston, Kans. 
(Seventh); Travis, Tex. (Eighth); and Lewis, Wash. 
(Ninth). 



selected five special cantonments con- 
structed late in the war as permanent 
"homes" for various branches; 12 and he 
retained Aberdeen Proving Ground, 
Edgewood Arsenal, eight airfields, two 
general hospitals, and several dozen other 
installations. 13 The rest of the huge war- 
time military plant was slated to go. 
Factories would be auctioned off ; canton- 
ments, salvaged; and land, leased or 
sold. During fiscal year 1923, Maj. 
Napoleon W. Riley, chief of the Real 
Estate Division, Construction Service, 
cleared $3.5 million through sales and 
negotiated leases which would bring 
in rentals totaling nearly $1 million 
a year. Riley co-ordinated his work 
with the Office of the Director of Sales, 
which Major Hartman headed from 
1922 to 1924. 14 Maj. Merrill D. Wheeler, 
who succeeded Riley in 1924, was to 
conduct more extensive "mopping up" 
operations involving larger blocks of 
real estate. 

Maintenance, rather than new con- 
struction, constituted the principal work 
of the service in the early 1920's. As the 
Army fell back on its permanent instal- 
lations, the Quartermaster Corps faced 
an immense task of upkeep and repair. 
Heading the maintenance organization 
during the Harding administration, Capt. 
William Cassidy and Maj. Wilmot A. 
Danielson faced what was described as 



a These were : Humphreys, Va., renamed Belvoir 
(Engineers); Vail, N.J., renamed Monmouth (Signal 
Corps); Eustis, Va. (Railway Artillery); Bragg, N.C. 
(Field Artillery); and Benning, Ga. (Infantry). 

"The airfields were: Brooks and Kelly, Tex.; 
Ghanute and Scott, 111. ; Langley, Va. ; March, Calif. ; 
Mitchel, N.Y.; and Selfridge, Mich. The hospitals 
were: Fitzsimmons General Hospital at Denver, 
Colo., and Beaumont General Hospital at El Paso, 
Tex. 

14 Incl with Memo, Riley for Chief Constr Serv, 
15 Oct 23. QM020 (Constr) 1921-39. 



LEAN YEARS 



45 



"the worst headache in the Army." 15 
Under their care were more than 150 
reservations, many dating from the 
earliest days of the nation's history and 
most encumbered with temporary war- 
time structures. Standard building and 
engineering practice indicated a yearly 
sum for maintenance equivalent to 3 
percent of the appraised value of per- 
manent structures and to 8 percent of 
temporary. Yet in 1922 appropriations 
amounted to only 1.5 percent and in 
1923 to but 0.82. Post quartermasters 
did their best to stretch meager budgets 
by using salvaged materials and em- 
ploying troops as repairmen and cus- 
todians. But with insufficient funds, they 
fought a losing batde. The backlog of 
deferred maintenance averaged approxi- 
mately $10 million a year. 16 

It was in these years that a start was 
made toward modernizing the military 
plant. Developing a plan for updating 
life on Army posts, Gassidy and Danielson 
pushed determinedly ahead. Automa- 
tion was ushered in with the introduc- 
tion of pressure switch controls for 
pumping plants and thermostats for 
heating systems. Installation of an elec- 
tric ice box in the Chief of Staff's quarters 
at Fort Myer marked the beginning of 
home refrigeration in the Army. Electric 
ranges began to replace old-time coal 
cookstoves. When funds were lacking, 
the Quartermaster officers resorted to 
stratagems. 17 Recalling the method by 
which natural gas was brought to several 



ls Cox Interv, 10 Sep 56. 

»(i) WD Ltr AG 600.15 (i-g-23) Misc M-D, 
12 Jan 33. QM 600.3 (Misc) 1922-31. (2) Annual 
Rpt of TQMG, 1923, pp. 4-5. QM 3 1 9. 1. (3) Memo, 
G— 4 for CofS, 20 Jul 25. AG 319.12 (8-21-25), 

17 Elizabeth C. Ryder, History of the Evolution of 
Repairs and Utilities (MS), 1958, Sees 2, 6, 7. 
EHD Files. 



reservations, Danielson wrote: 

One of my first duties on reporting in 
Washington ... in the fall of 1 92 1 was 
to negotiate a gas contract for Kelly Field 
and Normoyle at San Antonio. To use nat- 
ural gas required, of course, a distribution 
system. No funds for this were available. To 
overcome this we estimated the cost of the 
distribution system and added 10 cents a 
thousand to the contract price of 30 cents 
for the gas, making 40 cents total until 
the distribution system had been paid 
out. . . . This plan was used in getting 
natural gas to Fort Sill and Fort Riley. 

A somewhat different plan was used at 
Fort Leavenworth, where a right-of- 
way concession served as the quid pro quo 
for "a contract at a reasonable rate." 
Thus, the wartime pattern was reversed, 
as the Construction Service struggled 
to make a dime look like a dollar. 18 

Retrenchment forced major read- 
justments in the construction setup. As 
the volume of new work diminished, 
district offices were abandoned, and the 
staff in Washington was reduced. By 
late 1923 the Construction Service had 
only twenty-four officers, thirteen of 
whom were CQM's. 19 In 1924 The Quar- 
termaster General reported only one 
project "of any magnitude," a hospital 
wing and a cluster of officers quarters 
at Fort Benning, Georgia. 20 Surplus 
construction officers received other Quar- 
termaster duties. Men trained as archi- 
tects and engineers found themselves 
commanding wagon companies, ad- 
ministering depots, and serving as post 
QM's. Specialization went out the win- 
dow, as emphasis shifted to the develop- 
ment of "all-around quartermasters." 21 

18 Danielson Comments, pp. 4-6. 

14 (0 OQMG Circ 21, 30 Nov 21. (2) Memo, 
OQMG for ASW, 16 Nov 23. QM 210,321 1923. 

"Ltr, TQMG to TAG, 4 Sep 24. QM 31 9.1. 

"Memo, OQMG (Maj M. R. Wainer) for 
TQMG, 13 Oct 22. QM 210,321 1922. 



46 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



The organization inherited from General 
Marshall deteriorated sadly. Morale 
dipped. Some gave up in disgust. A dedi- 
cated few fought to prevent further losses. 
When Major Danielson talked of trans- 
ferring to the Corps of Engineers, his 
brother officers persuaded him to stay. 
Conditions, they told him, were bound 
to improve. M 

A turning point came in the mid- 
1920's, when living conditions at Army 
posts became a topic of wide concern. 
As early as May 1923, commenting on 
housing at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, the 
Chief of Engineers, General Beach, ad- 
vised The Quartermaster General: 

Present temporary buildings are rapidly 
approaching the end of their usefulness as 
habitable shelter. Maintenance cost by con- 
stant repair is prohibitive. Considering the 
delapidated condition of these buildings, 
money spent for repairs, while an immediate 
necessity, is beyond a doubt uneconomical 
and each year of delayed replacement by 
permanent construction adds to what is 
considered a waste of Government funds. 83 

A few months later The Inspector Gen- 
eral pointed out that temporary wartime 
structures were "becoming unfit and 
unsafe for occupancy." 24 Early in 1924, 
when an officer publicly stated that 
posts in the Second Corps Area were 
"rotting away" and told how soldiers 
at Governors Island fished for driftwood 
to repair flooring, the story made the 
front page of the New York Times.™ In 
his annual report for 1924 Secretary 



*' Danielson Comments, p. 55. 
M Ltr, CofEngrs to TQMG, 28 May 23. 600.1 
Part 1, 

"Ltr, TIG to SW, io Sep 23. AG 319.1a 
(9-31-23). 

"New York Timts, February 26, 1924, pp. 1, 10. 
© 1924 by The New York Times Company. Re- 
printed by permission. 



Weeks disclosed that 40,000 men were 
living under "unsuitable" conditions. 29 
Leading periodicals took up the theme, 
featuring articles with such titles as 
"Our Homeless Army" and "Army 
Housing: A National Disgrace. 

By the fall of 1924 Weeks was pre- 
pared to offer a long-range building 
program to Congress. Two plans had 
been submitted by Constructing Quar- 
termaster General Knight. Both were 
based on an Army of 150,000 men, 
and both were relatively modest. The 
first made use of virtually all existing 
posts; the second concentrated troops 
at a few large reservations and provided 
for the abandonment of surplus in- 
stallations. Although the General Staff 
preferred the second plan, practical con- 
siderations compelled it to choose the 
first. As G-4 advised the Chief of Staff: 
"Difficulty has always been experienced 
in securing the necessary authority to 
dispose of old Army posts due to the fact 
that adjoining communities through their 
Congressmen have raised such strong 
objections to having the garrison taken 
away." There was another important 
consideration: the first plan would cost 
$10 million less than the second. 28 

The program presented to Congress 
contemplated the expenditure of $110 
million over a 10-year period. To alle- 
viate miserable living conditions was the 
main objective. Permanent barracks, 
quarters, and hospitals would replace 
ramshackle wartime structures. Water 
and sewage systems would be modern- 



" Report of the Secretary of War, 1334 (Washington, 

1924)5 P- l6ff - 

"(1) Outlook, vol. 142, no. 5 (February 3, 1926), 
pp. 178-80. (2) The Literary Digest, Novembers, 1927, 
pp. 10-1 1, 

M Memo, G-4 for CofS, 18 Oct 24. G-4/14958. 



LEAN YEARS 



47 






Chanute Field, Illinois, 1923, showing dilapidated condition of 
World War I temporary structures. 



ized, and up-to-date heating and cold 
storage plants would be provided. Later 
on, if funds permitted, hangars, vehicle 
storage, and warehousing would be con- 
structed. The Quartermaster General 
came up with a scheme for financing 
the program. Since the end of the war, 
he had transferred to other departments 
or sold over $90 million worth of surplus 
military real estate. The War Depart- 
ment had received nothing whatever 
from these transactions. The Quarter- 
master General asked that proceeds 
from future sales go into a fund to be used 
for permanent construction. 29 
w G-4/i49 5 8. 



In 1926 Congress loosened the purse 
strings slightly. The Quartermaster Gen- 
eral received his permanent construction 
fund, together with authority to spend 
$7 million during the coming year. The 
total made available for new construction 
in 1926 topped the $8 million mark for 
the first time since the war. Appropria- 
tions for maintenance, repairs, and utili- 
ties, the so-called barracks and quarters 
funds, amounted to nearly $14 million, 
almost $10 million more than the figure 
for the previous year. The sum for 
construction and repair of hospitals re- 
mained as before, between $400,000 and 
8500,000. Recognizing another urgent 



48 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



requirement, Congress approved a 5- 
year air expansion program, calling for 
increases in personnel and planes. Funds 
for construction of runways, hangars, 
fueling systems, and other Air Corps 
facilities were promised for 1927. Still 
another commission was given to the 
Quartermaster Corps: to design the 
approaches and conduct the architectural 
competition for the Tomb of the Un- 
known Soldier in Arlington National 
Cemetery. 30 

With a sizable sum of money in hand 
and the expectation of more to come, 
The Quartermaster General, Maj. Gen. 
B. Frank Cheatham, launched a com- 
prehensive plan for post development. 
At the time, few reservations were places 
of beauty. As one architect observed, 
barracks and quarters were often "ar- 
ranged in monotonous rows close to- 
gether, with little privacy, with no 
outlook or setting, utterly unattrac- 
tive." 31 Cheatham's architectural staff 
was second to none in Washington. 
Headed by Lt. Col. Francis B. Wheaton, 
formerly with McKim, Meade & White, 
it included Luther M. Leisenring, a 
graduate of the University of Pennsyl- 
vania and a former associate of Cass 
Gilbert; 1st Lt. Howard B, Nurse, a 
graduate of Mechanics Institute who 
had practiced in Rochester, New York; 
and a number of other fine professionals. 
Although cost would be an important 
factor in the drafting of new plans, the 
attitude of Wheaton's group was ex- 
pressed by Nurse, who quoted a passage 
from Ruskin: "You may have thought 

"(1) 44 Stat. 302, 264, 783, 914. (a) Summary of 
Appns, 1920-40. (3) Report of the Secretary of War, igs6 
(Washington, 1926), pp. 33-36. 

"George B. Ford, "New Army Posts for Old," 
The Quartermaster Review, November-December 1929, 
P- «9- 



that beauty is expensive. You are 
wrong—it is ugliness that costs." 32 The 
Quartermaster architects produced de- 
signs in keeping with American tradi- 
tion and regional character: Georgian 
for the Atlantic seaboard, French Pro- 
vincial for Louisiana, and Spanish Mis- 
sion for the Southwest. To help lay out 
the projects, they called in nationally 
known city planners as consultants. 
Their goal, as Cheatham defined it, was 
"a deviation from the set type of military 
post." 33 

In carrying out the 10-year program, 
the Construction Service was handi- 
capped by a shortage of officers. To be 
sure, there were more than enough quali- 
fied men within the Quartermaster Corps 
to handle the load. But relatively few 
were available for construction duty. 
Most were performing other Quarter- 
master tasks, serving on staffs, or at- 
tending school. The so-called Manchu 
Law, under which no officer below the 
rank of general could remain in Wash- 
ington longer than four years, made a 
bad situation worse. When Lt. Col. 
Henry R. Casey, the key man in the 
Washington office was due to leave, 
Constructing Quartermaster General 
Dalton managed to keep him on by 
means of a "field" assignment to the 
Washington QM Depot. When Capt. 
Phillips H. Mallory, chief of the main- 
tenance division, was "Manchued" out, 
Dalton summoned Danielson from Bos- 
ton, where he was completing work to- 
ward a master's degree at MIT. 
Only with difficulty could Constructing 



12 1st Lt. Howard B. Nurse, "The Planning of 
Army Posts," The Quartermaster Review, September- 
October 1928, p. 15. 

"Annual Rpt of TQMG, 1927, pp. 67-69. AG 
319.12. 



LEAN YEARS 



49 




Post Chapel, Randolph Field, Texas 



Quartermasters be found for the growing 
number of projects. Fortunately, some 
good officers were available, among 
them Capts. George E. Lamb and 
Elmer G. Thomas, both veterans of the 
wartime division; Maj. John D. 
Kilpatrick, holder of two engineering 
degrees from Princeton University; and 
Capt. George F. Hobson, a graduate 
of MIT. But the ranks were too thin. 
General Cheatham had to recommend 
that commanding officers act as CQM's 
at Aberdeen Proving Ground and two 
Ordnance depots. 3 * 
M QM 210.321. 



As the program expanded, pleasing 
vistas opened before the "homeless 
Army." Handsome masonry buildings 
began to replace the unsightly tempos 
of World War I. Telephones, oil burners, 
automatic stokers, storm doors, screens, 
and lighted streets enhanced the ameni- 
ties of life on reservations. The new Air 
Corps stations were to be showplace 
installations. New medical facilities would 
be the last word in hospital design. These 
innovations and improvements sparked 
a sprucing-up campaign. Station com- 
manders started nurseries and promoted 
the planting of trees and shrubs. Garden 



50 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Officers' Club, Fort Belvoir, Virginia 



clubs sprang up at almost every post. A 
ladies' committee, headed by Mrs. 
Cheatham, assisted with the decor of 
family quarters. The large, well-planned, 
permanent posts, with their fine buildings 
and attractive landscapes, were a source 
of pride to the Army. Fort Belvoir, 
Virginia, with its colonnaded structures 
spread out along ridges overlooking the 
Potomac, and Randolph Field, Texas, 
with its gleaming Mission architecture 
and imposing grounds, were particularly 
striking. The program aroused consider- 
able enthusiasm and won the strong 
support of Secretary of War Dwight F. 



Davis. The attitude of Congress was 
favorable; from ig26 through 1930 it 
voted approximately $126 million for 
the Construction Service. 36 

Large-scale construction at permanent 
posts, major airfield projects, modern 
hospital wards and clinics, the Wright 
Brothers Memorial at Kitty Hawk, North 
Carolina, restoration of the Lee Mansion 
at Arlington, Virginia, a group of mas- 
sive buildings at the U.S. Military Acad- 



'* ( 1 ) Annual Rpts of TQMG, 1 99 7-30. QM 3 1 9. 1 . 
(a) Ltr, Chief Constr Serv OQMG to TAG, 5 Nov 
a8. QM 618.34 (Gen). (3) Summary of Appns, 
1920-40. 



LEAN YEARS 



51 



emy — each new assignment added to 
the strain. The officers of the Construc- 
tion Service were aging, and few young 
men were being trained to fill their 
shoes. Since the war, second lieutenants 
had shown little interest in Quartermaster 
careers. In the spring of 1928 General 
Cheatham had only five on his rolls, 
although he was authorized forty-two. 
A hard core of "old guard" construction 
officers — men like Danielson, Hartman, 
Nurse, and Thomas — endeavored to hold 
the line. CQM and Vicinity offices, each 
having jurisdiction over a wide area, 
were established in major cities. Civilians 
filled key posts in the Washington office. 
When Colonel Wheaton retired in the 
late 1920's, Leisenring took over as 
supervising architect. Another mainstay 
of the organization was Joseph A. Bayer, 
who administered fiscal activities for 
nearly twenty years. Increasingly, Cheat- 
ham felt the need for an "automatic 
supply of second lieutenants." Deter- 
mined to meet this need, he set out to 
get what the Quartermaster Corps had 
never had before, men from West Point 
graduating classes. 36 

Arguing before the General Staff for 
a "fair share of the intelligent and well 
educated young officers who enter the 
Army," Cheatham won his case. Each 
year a few vacancies in the Quarter- 
master Corps would be open to Academy 
graduates. 37 But recruitment proved dif- 
ficult. The attitude of the faculty was 
discouraging; one instructor asked a 
cadet if he wished to spend his life buying 
groceries and issuing shoes. On several 
visits to West Point, General Cheatham 
spoke to the first classmen, stressing the 

"Ltr, Cheatham to TAG, 10 Mar 28. QM 
s 1 0.32 1 (Asgmts) 1928. 
" Ibid. 



advantages of a Quartermaster career. 
In response to his appeals, three mem- 
bers of the class of 1929 — Everett C. 
Hayden, Elmer E. Kirkpatrick, and 
Clarence Renshaw — joined the Con- 
struction Service. Assigned to West 
Point in the summer of 1929 as CQM 
for the new million-dollar project there, 
Hartman assumed the role of talent 
scout. During his 5-year stay at the 
Academy, he helped guide a score of 
graduates into military construction. 38 
Cheatham and his successor, Maj. Gen. 
John L. DeWitt, arranged for ten of 
these "boys" to take degrees at leading 
engineering schools. Hopes for the future 
depended heavily on these young ca- 
reerists. 

With Brig. Gen. Louis H. Bash, the 
unusually able and forceful officer who 
was Chief of Construction from 1929 
to 1933, DeWitt took further steps to 
strengthen the organization. He revived 
specialization, classifying construction of- 
ficers as such and restricting them to 
their specialty. Years later he explained, 
"I always operated on the theory that 
a Jack-of-all-trades is master of none." 
More new blood was infused into the 
Construction Service. DeWitt personally 
combed the files in The Adjutant Gen- 
eral's office, looking for likely candidates, 
men with superior ratings and technical 
qualifications, who might be detailed to 
the Quartermaster Corps. 39 About a 
dozen officers, including five with en- 
gineering degrees, came into the Service 
in this way. Meanwhile, Bash and his 

38 (1) Intervs with M. Scott Dickson, 10 Jul 61; 
Brig Gen Clarence Renshaw, 13 Feb 59; Brig Gen 
Christian F. Dreyer, 27 Feb 59. (2) Ltr, Hartman to 
DeWitt, 16 Jun 31. QM a 10.321. 

*• (1 ) Interv with Gen John L. DeWitt, 10 Apr 57. 
See also WD Ltr AG 201.6 (1-12-33) Misc M, 17 
Jan 33. 



52 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



assistants were also on the lookout for 
good men. Among the outstanding of- 
ficers they recruited were ist Lt. Kester 
L. Hastings and Maj. Hugo E. Pitz. A 
1 91 8 West Point graduate, Hastings 
was destined to become The Quarter- 
master General. Pitz, a 1904 graduate 
of Rensselaer Poly, was to be a key 
figure in construction during the 1930's — 
"a human dynamo who kept the train 
on the track," one associate described 
him. 40 A noteworthy change made by 
DeWitt and Bash in 1 930 was the revival 
of the name Construction Division — a 
change which served to remind con- 
struction officers of the wartime ac- 
complishment. 

As the economic crisis deepened, as 
the volume of construction in the United 
States fell from $13.9 billion in 1929 to 
$5.7 billion in 1932, Congress voted 
modest increases in Army building funds. 
In the last three years of the Hoover 
administration, approximately $100 mil- 
lion, roughly half of it for new con- 
struction, became available to Bash's 
organization. The landmark legislation 
approved on 21 July 1932, the Emer- 
gency Relief and Construction Act, set 
aside more than $15 million for housing 
at Army posts. A program comprising 
some sixty projects, including million- 
dollar jobs at Barksdale, Langley, and 
Maxwell Fields, went forward during 
the early years of the depression. 41 Re- 
vitalized and strengthened by DeWitt 
and Bash, the Construction Division 
took this work in stride. Recalling the 
organization as it was in February 1933, 
when Bash succeeded him as The Quar- 

40 Dreyer Interv, 27 Feb 59. 

41 (l) Summary of Appm, 1920-40. (a) 47 Stat. 
716. (3) Annual Rpt of TQ.MG, 1933, pp. 52-55. 
QM 319. 1. 



termaster General, DeWitt stated: "There 
were no weaknesses that I know of. We 
did a good job." 44 

With the advent of the New Deal, the 
situation changed radically. Assuring 
the "host of unemployed citizens" that 
first things would come first, and calling 
for "action now," President Roosevelt 
declared in his inaugural address: "Our 
greatest primary task is to put people 
to work." At the same time he pledged 
his administration to reducing the cost 
of government and to "making income 
balance outgo." 43 The military appro- 
priation act approved on 4 March 1933, 
the same day Roosevelt took office, pro- 
vided $12 million for routine main- 
tenance but no new money for Army 
housing. Before the month was out, 
directives reached the War Department 
severely restricting expenditures and im- 
pounding construction money appro- 
priated under Hoover. The first "Hun- 
dred Days" of the new administration 
produced the Civilian Conservation 
Corps (CCC) and the Public Works 
Administration (PWA), both designed 
to created useful employment for the 
jobless. The Army came into the picture 
when Roosevelt ordered it to have 
250,000 young men in the forests by 
early summer and when the Chief of 
Staff, General Douglas MacArthur, re- 
quested a large sum of PWA construc- 
tion money. 44 

For the first time since the war, the 
Construction Division faced an emer- 
gency. Fourteen hundred CCC camps 

41 DeWitt Interv, 10 Apr 57. 

43 H Doc a 1 8, 87th Cong, istsess, Inaugural Addresses 
of the Presidents of the United Slates, pp. 236-37. 

44 (1) Annual Rpt of TQMG, 1933, pp. 6a, 59. 
(2) Annual Rpt of the CofS, 1933. In Report of the 
Secretary of War to the President, 1933 (Washington, 
•933), PP- 15- 16 . 



LEAN YEARS 



53 



to be ready by July, plus plans for 
spending $135 million in PWA funds 
asked for by the Chief of Staff — such 
was the task confronting the Constructing 
Quartermaster General, Brig. Gen. 
Patrick W. Guiney, and his principal 
assistant, Colonel Pitz, in the spring of 
1933. With more than 13,000,000 people 
out of work, speed was "paramount" 
and time was "the dominant considera- 
tion." "Everything had to be done before 
it was started," Danielson recalled. 45 
Part of the load was lifted from Guiney's 
shoulders, when CCC construction was 
decentralized to the corps area com- 
manders, who surmounted the crisis by 
calling up Reserve officers and housing 
the enrollees, temporarily, in tents. The 
burden was lightened still further, when 
the Army allotment under the 3.3- 
billion-dollar PWA program was pared 
to $61.4 million, less than half the sum 
MacArthur had requested. Even so, the 
undertaking was several times larger and 
far more urgent than anything attempted 
since 191 8. 46 

The situation demanded extraordinary 
measures. Responding to the President's 
call for action, Guiney and Pitz hastened 
to enlarge their organization, freeze de- 
signs, and place construction under way. 
They hired more civilian engineers. 
They rounded up every available officer 
with construction experience, including 
Danielson and Hartman, who came to 
Washington to help direct the effort. 
They issued standard blueprints, in- 
structed CQM's to brook no interference 
by corps area and post commanders, 
and persuaded the Secretary of War to 

«(0 WD Ltr AG 600.1 a IR (5-19-33) Misc 
M-D, g Jun 33. (2) Danielson Comments, p. 26. 

44 Annual Rpt of TQMG, '934, pp. 20, 25. QM 
3«9-'- 



notify the field: "Time is not available 
for any extensive effort toward creating 
designs, drawing new plans, or effecting 
variations in plans already proven to be 
satisfactory." 47 They made a good record. 
Within a 40-week span, they awarded 
contracts totaling $47.5 million, launched 
purchase and hire jobs with a total 
estimated cost of $10.8 million, and put 
more than 11,000 persons to work. Proj- 
ects undertaken with PWA funds in- 
cluded extensive construction at Aber- 
deen Proving Ground, a photolitho- 
graphic plant at Fort Belvoir, a riding 
hall at Fort Myer, a chapel at Fort 
Meade, and needed improvements at 
several dozen other posts. 48 

An experiment designed to tide the 
needy over the winter of 1 933-34 pointed 
work relief in another direction. Less 
businesslike than Interior Secretary 
Harold L. Ickes' PWA, but a good deal 
faster, was the Civil Works Adminis- 
tration (CWA), set up under Harry L. 
Hopkins in the fall of 1933. With a bil- 
lion dollars transferred by the President 
from PWA, Hopkins created jobs for 
4,000,000 people in thirty days. Par- 
ticipating in this program, the Con- 
struction Division had its first experience 
with "make work" projects. In a few 
months, the division spent $24.3 million 
at 265 posts, cemeteries, and Guard 
camps to employ 55,000 men. The bulk 
of the money went for wages and vir- 
tually all the work was of a pick and 
shovel variety: improving drainage, grad- 
ing roads, and the like. 49 Although CWA 



47 WD Ltr AG 600.12 IR (5-19-33) Mik M-D, 
9 Jun 33. 

48 (i) QM 210.321. (2) Annual Rpt of TQMG, 
1934, p. 20. (3) 1st Ind, 9 May 34, on Memo, G— 4 
for TQMG, 4 May 34. QM 600.1 (Public Works). 

49 Annual Rpt of TQMG, 1 934, pp. ao-a 1 . 



54 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 
Table 3 — Appropriations for Maintenance and Repairs 



Year 


Appropriated 


Percent of Appraised 
Valuation 


Estimated Requirement 


1934 




32,444,003 


0.65 


313,290,448 


1935 




1,670,364 


0.39 


12,715,152 


1936 




2,465,185 


0.61 


19,604,580 



Source loci with Memo, G-t for TQMG, 8 May 36. QM 600.3 (Misc) 1941. 



passed from the scene in early 1 934, more 
and more money flowed into this type of 
activity, as first the Federal Works Ad- 
ministration (FWA) and later the Works 
Progress Administration (WPA) or- 
ganized so-called "leaf-raking" projects 
in virtually every community. Mean- 
time, the flow of PWA funds slowed to 
a trickle and appropriations for military 
construction all but ceased. 

The Army housing and Air Corps 
programs, begun so hopefully in the 
late 1920's, came to a halt and mainte- 
nance funds dwindled almost to the 
vanishing point. From 1 934 through 1 936 
only $14 million was appropriated for 
military construction, and nearly $10 
million of this sum was for buildings 
at West Point and for Hickam Field, 
Hawaii. The Wilcox Act, passed in 1935, 
authorized construction of five strategic 
air bases in the United States and Alaska 
and two major air depots, one in the 
southeast and one in the Rocky Moun- 
tain area, but no funds were voted for 
this work until 1937, when Congress 
made available $8.8 million. Appropria- 
tions for maintenance and r epairs hit 
bottom during this period. 60 (Table 3) 
FWA and WPA funds— $5 million in 
1934, $19 million in 1935, and $28 mil- 



lion in 1936 — were the chief reliance; 
but, because most of the money had to 
be spent for wages and much of the labor 
was unskilled, the Construction Divi- 
sion received a low return for its relief 
dollars. An increase in the enlisted 
strength of the Army to 153,212 in 1936 
led to serious overcrowding. Men were 
housed in stables, attics, and gymnasiums; 
and at Carlisle Barracks prisoners were 
confined in a Hessian guardhouse dating 
from the Revolution. Without proper 
maintenance, the military plant became 
more and more dilapidated. 61 Recalling 
living conditions at run-down Army 
posts, one high-ranking officer declared: 
"We reached a situation where, at 
times, an umbrella inside the house was 
as useful as one outside." 62 

Appeals for an end to made work and 
a resumption of constructive effort were 
bootless. Year after year The Quarter- 
master General drew up realistic esti- 
mates based on the Army's needs. Year 
after year the Bureau of the Budget 
turned thumbs down, with a repetition 
of the set phrase, "not in accord with 
the program of the President." Mean- 



m Incl with Memo, G-4 for TQMG, 8 May 36. 
QM 600.3 (Misc) 1 94 1. 



51 (1) Summary of PWA and Work Relief Funds 
Available to OQMG, FY's 1934-40. Opns Br Files, 
S.3 (WPA). (2) G-4/30552. 

ra Testimony of Gen G. C. Marshall, 5 Aug 40. In 
S Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d 
sess, Hearings on H R 10263, p. 6. 



LEAN YEARS 



55 



while, the construction industry pushed 
a campaign of militant opposition to 
WPA. In a speech to the annual con- 
vention of the AGC early in 1936, Presi- 
dent William A. Klinger presented the 
industry's "viewpoint of recovery eco- 
nomics": 63 

The basic principle of priming the pump 
is to put the water into the pump. This can't 
be done by taking a bucket of water and 
spilling it over the pump, letting the great 
bulk of the water waste itself in holes in the 
ground .... A pump cannot be primed 
by men that know nothing about the pump 
that is to be primed. It cannot be primed by 
a Social Welfare worker .... It must 
be done by somebody who knows something 
about the industry to be used as the primer. 64 

But the industry's thrusts had little ef- 
fect. When Danielson's assistant, Lt. M. 
Scott Dickson, a personal friend of 
Hopkins', called on the WPA adminis- 
trator for help in accomplishing new 
construction projects, Hopkins told him: 
"I don't give a damn about your proj- 
ects. I just want to put men to work. I 
don't give a damn if they dig a hole one 
day and fill it up the next. I want them 
working." 66 

As international tensions mounted af- 
ter 1936, as the Army was augmented 
to 165,000 in 1937 and to 170,000 in 
1938, continued efforts were made to 
resume the military construction pro- 
gram suspended in 1933. Colonel Pitz 
developed a plan for spending $162 mil- 
lion over a period of years. Colonel 
Hartman, as chief of the Construction 



" (t) Ltr, BOB to SW, 25 Jan 36. G-4/30552 Sec 
II. (2) WD Ltr AG 600.12 (5-1-37) Misc M-D, 
4 May 37. (3) Memo, G-4 for CofS, 20 Jan 38. 
G— 4/30552 Sec IV. (4) The Constructor, March 1936, 
p. 11. 

M The Constructor, April 1936, pp. 5-6. 
' 5 Dickson Interv, 10 Jul 1961. 



Branch, G— 4, led the movement to put 
the plan across. When the Bureau of 
the Budget withheld approval, the Chair- 
men of the Military Affairs Committees, 
Senator Morris Sheppard and Repre- 
sentative Lister Hill, took a hand. The 
result was an act approved on 26 August 

1937, authorizing the appropriation of 
$25.5 million to be spent at forty-six 
posts and stations. This authorization 
helped pave the way for a twelve-mil- 
lion-dollar appropriation on 1 1 June 

1938. The first big break came ten days 
later, when President Roosevelt agreed 
to give the Construction Division $65 
million — $50 million in PWA funds and 
$15 million in WPA money — on con- 
dition that contracts be let and work 
started by 1 5 August. 56 

At this point a new obstacle arose in 
the person of the Constructing Quarter- 
master General, Brig. Gen. A. Owen 
Seaman, who declined to accept the 
money on the President's terms. An 
officer with thirty-eight years' service 
and good political connections, Seaman 
had succeeded General Guiney upon 
the latter's death in December 1936. 
The appointment had been made over 
the opposition of construction officers 
who favored Danielson for the post. 
Peppery and unpredictable, Seaman had 
antagonized the General Staff, and his 
refusal to take the proferred funds exas- 
perated the Chief of Staff, General 
Malm Craig. Sending for The Quarter- 
master General, Maj. Gen. Henry 
Gibbins, Craig arranged to "sidetrack" 
Seaman. On 21 June, the day the 



"(i) G-4/30552 Sec III. (2) 50 Stat. 857. (3) 
52 Stat. 651. (4) Ltr, Roosevelt to Ickes, 21 Jun 
38. AG 600.12 IR (3-1 1-33) Sec ID. (5) Memo, G-4 
for TQMG, 1 1 Aug 38. QM 600. 1 (Public Works) 
1938. 



56 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



money became available, Colonel 
Hartman became executive officer of 
the Construction Division with full au- 
thority to see that the President's wishes 
were carried out. 57 Of this assignment 
Hartman later wrote: 

I was ordered by the Chief of Staff to re- 
port to The Quartermaster General with 
instructions to assume full charge of the Con- 
struction Division to carry out the program. 
General Seaman remained in the office with- 
out authority and acted on all papers subject 
to my approval. This was a most embarrass- 
ing situation since I was then a colonel and 
his junior by some ten years. 58 

Despite his awkward situation, Hartman 
had the program under way by 15 Au- 
gust. 59 His subsequent success was but 
one of many achieved by the Construction 
Division. 

With but half a billion dollars to 
spend over a 19- year span, the division 
did a remarkable job, providing per- 
manent housing for 75,000 officers and 
men, erecting more than a dozen modern 
Air Corps stations, enlarging older gen- 
eral hospitals and building several new 
ones, constructing schools, laboratories, 
depots, and memorials, and updating 
the military plant. High quality at low 
cost was the Quartermaster hallmark. 
An annual prize awarded by the Asso- 
ciation of Federal Architects went to 
the Construction Division three years 

" ( r ) Statement of Gen Hartman (prepared in 
response to questionnaire from the authors), 5 Jul 
55. PP- 3~4- (a) Danielson Comments, pp. 18-19, 
(3) Memo, M. H. Mclntyre for the President, 19 
Dec 36. (4) Ltr, Dickson to Mclntyre, ao Dec 36. 
Last two in Roosevelt Papers, OF25-X, WD QMC, 
1933-34. (5) Intervs with Mr. Dickson, 10 Jul 61; 
Brig Gen George P. Tyner, 28 Sep 55; Maj Gen 
James H. Burns, 24 May 56. (6) Memo, Gibbins for 
Red, ai Jun 38. QM 625 1935-41. (7) Memo, G-4 
for SGS, 23 Jun 38. G-4/22853-27. 

68 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 4. 

"Ltr, Craig to Ickes, 15 Aug 38. G-4/29778. 



out of six. Overhead generally ran well 
below 7 percent. Looking back over the 
lean years of the 1920's and i93o's, one 
long-time Quartermaster officer re- 
flected : 

I feel confident that that loyal group of 
hard-working, experienced, competent, and 
efficient men and women inwardly glow with 
a fierce pride and take great pleasure in the 
accomplishments of the Construction Division 
of which they were a part. They can point 
with justifiable pride to the beautiful monu- 
mental buildings at the United States Mili- 
tary Academy at West Point and to the un- 
obtrusive grandeur and beauty of the Me- 
morial Amphitheater and Unknown Soldier's 
Tomb at Arlington. Who can deny being 
impressed with such tremendous plants as 
the posts of Fort Benning, Fort Sill, Fort 
Bragg, and Fort Knox that were built within 
the span of a single generation? 61 * 

The list of accomplishments was long. 
But whether the Construction Division 
would be equal to a major emergency 
was open to question. 

Preparedness and Public Works 

A construction force capable of meeting 
almost any emergency existed in the 
civil works organization of the Corps of 
Engineers. A nationwide network of 
field offices, a host of professional civilian 
employees, and a select group of officers 
imparted strength to the Engineer De- 
partment. A $2.5-billion program of 
navigation, flood control, and fortifi- 
cations projects, undertaken in the years 
of peace, contributed to the depart- 
ment's stability. 61 Vast engineering enter- 
prises tested its capacity to perform ex- 

80 Answers to Questionnaire, Violante to authors, 

25 Sep 57- 

61 Table, prepared by OUSW, Sep 41, title: 
Constr Opns, FY's 1920-39. USW Files, Misc and 
Sub— Constr Transfer, QM-CE. 



LEAN YEARS 



57 




Camp on Levee, Arkansas City, Arkansas, During 1927 Flood 



tensive construction in time of war or in 
preparation for war. Depicting opera- 
tions at the $86-million Fort Peck Dam, 
one officer declared: "This is not theo- 
retical training and experience; it is the 
real thing!" 62 Battling floods could be 
likened to hard-fought military battles. 
"In physical and mental strain," wrote 
one veteran of the 1927 Mississippi 
River disaster, "a prolonged high-water 
fight on threatened levees can only be 
compared with real war." 63 Experience 

61 Capt. G. H. Chorpening, "Experience for War," 
The Military Engineer, XXIX, no, 166 (July- August 
1937), p. 250. 

•» Maj. John C. H. Lee, "A Flood Year on the 
Mid-Mississippi," The Military Engineer, XX, no. 1 is 
(July- August 1928), p. 307. 



gained in civil works could pay huge 
dividends in a defense emergency. But 
throughout the twenties and thirties, 
the system which produced this experi- 
ence was in danger of being scrapped. 

Resuming their campaign against the 
Engineers in the fall of 1920, proponents 
of a public works department tried a fresh 
approach. Admittedly, the tussle over 
military construction had been a mistake. 
"My idea," chief tactician Leighton after- 
ward confessed. "I wish I hadn't thought 
of it." 64 The new line was to leave the 
function in the War Department, at 
least temporarily. Criticism of the En- 



M Leighton Interv, 2 Apr 57. 



58 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



gineers was to be more temperate. 
Flanking movements would replace 
frontal assaults. A prospectus of the 
public works department contained this 
commendation of the Corps : 

While the work of the Army engineers has 
been open to many objections and has often 
been accompanied by delays and waste- 
fulness, it has been conducted with the mini- 
mum of graft and the minimum of petty 
political partisanship. And this has been not 
so much because of the men themselves, but 
because they were given a high standing, were 
suitably protected in their positions, and 
could not be peremptorily discharged with- 
out real cause. It is the principle in- 
volved in this matter which should be pre- 
served. . To apply this principle to 
the permanent technical force of a Depart- 
ment of Public Works, it will be necessary 
that the members of this force should be given 
as secure a tenure of office as is given to offi- 
cers of the Army and Navy. 

The Engineers' contention that public 
works experience was essential to pre- 
paredness received this endorsement: 

It is realized [the prospectus stated] that 
modern war demands the services of nearly 
the entire engineering profession, and pro- 
vision should therefore be made for the full- 
est use desired by the Army of the officers of 
this new department. They should be and 
can be as eligible for immediate detail with 
the Army in time of war or other emergency 
as are the present officers of Army engineers 
who are engaged on civil work. 

How the plan would work was hazy. 66 
A determined offensive soon got rolling. 
The Federated American Engineering 
Societies, led by Herbert Hoover, spear- 
headed the drive for legislative action. 
The Associated General Contractors as- 
sumed a major role in the struggle, and 
its aggressive managing director, General 
Marshall, became the firebrand of the 

•* The Constructor, January 1922, pp. 65, 86. 



movement. During the fall of 1920 ef- 
forts focused on reviving the Jones- 
Reavis proposal for a department of 
public works. Then, at the lame duck 
session of the 66th Congress convened 
in December of that year, a joint reso- 
lution established a committee of the 
House and Senate to study the executive 
branch of the government with a view to 
reorganization. In May 1921 the Presi- 
dent appointed a representative to work 
with the committee. Privately, Harding 
told industry leaders that his adminis- 
tration would press for a public works 
department. 66 

The Engineer posture was defensive; 
the attitude was one of watchful waiting. 
To combat the charge "neither en- 
gineers nor soldiers," the Corps adopted 
a career development program designed 
to give every young officer a degree from 
a civilian engineering college in addi- 
tion to experience with troops and civil 
works. The latter day Army Engineer 
was likely to be an alumnus of Cornell, 
California, or MIT, as well as a top 
graduate of West Point. Master's de- 
grees were plentiful, and here and there 
was a Ph.D." To build support within 
the Army, the Engineers engaged in 
missionary work. A lecture by General 
Patrick at the General Staff College em- 
bodied their message. Emphasizing the 
"vital importance" of civil works in de- 
veloping Engineer officers, Patrick stated : 

This is a matter which is not thoroughly 
understood by the army at large, . . . 
and it is known that in many quarters there 



" ( 1 ) The Bulletin of the AGC, January 1 92 1 , p. 33. 
(2) 41 Stat. 1083. (3) 42 Stat. 3. (4) A. C. Oliphant, 
"The Need for a Bureau of Public Works," The 
Constructor, November 1925, p. 23. 

* 7 (i) 025 Part 2. (2) Incl with OCE Memo, 13 
Jun 28. 316 (Office Methods and Opns), (3) Data 
prepared in EHD, Education of CE Officers, 1 920-39, 



LEAN YEARS 



59 



is a decided prejudice against the Corps of 
Engineers being charged with the conduct 
of such civil works. To us it seems clearly 
evident that this is due to a misunderstanding 
and misconception of the relation which this 
duty bears to the work of the Corps of En- 
gineers in war. . . . We must have in 
the permanent Army a sufficient number 
of trained military engineers to guide and 
direct our reserve officers until such time as 
they shall have become thoroughly conver- 
sant with military conditions. . . . We 
know of no other way in which this training 
can be secured except by the employment of 
engineer officers on public works. 68 

While attempting to shore up their po- 
sition, the Engineers tried to steer clear 
of controversy. Much as they wanted the 
military construction function, they were 
content to bide their time. 69 If, as the 
saying went, the first step in any war 
was to reorganize the Quartermaster 
Corps, their opportunity would come. 

Aiding the cause of the Engineers 
were proceedings instituted by the Jus- 
tice Department late in 1922. Around 
Thanksgiving Day, Attorney General 
Harry M. Daugherty filed lawsuits to- 
taling $55 million against eleven of the 
sixteen World War cantonment con- 
tractors. A month later, after examining 
the evidence of the Graham committee 
and hearing a number of witnesses, 
among them, reportedly, the wartime 
Chief of Engineers, a special grand 
jury indicted former Assistant Secretary 
of War Benedict Crowell for conspiracy 
to defraud the government. Charged as 
co-conspirators were Starrett, Lundoff, 
Tuttle, and three other members of the 
Committee on Emergency Construc- 



" Lecture by Gen Patrick, 10 Feb ao. 035 Part 2. 

•» (1) Ltr, CofEngrs to Col S. M. Felton, 24 May 
36. 400.12 Part 33, (2) Memo, GofEngrs for Red, 13 
Jun 28. 020 (Engrs, Office, Chief of) Jan 21 -Sep 40. 



tion. 70 Reaction to these developments 
was mixed. "A monstrous wrong," said 
President Arthur S. Bent of the AGC. 
"To indict a great industry, to accuse 
its outstanding leaders of treason to this 
Government of the most despicable 
character, is to attack the morale of the 
entire country and feed the dangerous 
fires of distrust and lawlessness." 71 By 
contrast, Col. Clarence O. Sherrill, the 
Engineer officer who served as principal 
military aide to Presidents Harding 
and Coolidge, expressed the view: 
"Take the graft and absolute loss of 
funds through graft to the Govern- 
ment .... I feel no hesitation 
in saying that if that work had been 
under the Corps of Engineers . . . 
that would never have happened." 72 

The government lost every case. Im- 
puting political motives to the Republi- 
can administration, Crowell and his 
fellow defendants retained as counsel 
Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War 
in the Taft administration, and Frank J. 
Hogan, a prominent Washington lawyer. 
The defense attorneys promptly filed 
demurrers. Appearing before the Su- 
preme Court of the District of Columbia 
in the fall of 1923, they assailed the in- 
dictment as "an attempt to turn a dif- 
ference of political opinion into a charge 
of crime." 73 On 30 January 1924 Judge 
Adolph A. Hoehling sustained the de- 



70 New York Times, November 25, 1922, p. 15; 
December 5, 1922, p. 10; December 31, 1922, p. 1. 

"Address before Annual Mtg of AGC at Los 
Angeles, 30 Jan 23. Reprinted in The Constructor, 
February 1923, p. 22. 

74 H and S Joint Coram on Reorgn of the Admin 
Br of the Govt, 68th Cong, 1 st sess, Hearings on S Jt 
Res 28a, p. 744. 

73 The Constructor, November 1923, p. 27. See also 
New York Times, October 4, 1923, p. 25; October 5, 
1923, p.ai. 



60 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



murrers, thus dismissing the indictments. 
The civil actions also failed. One by one, 
suits against the contractors were thrown 
out of court. In the only case which went 
to trial, the jury took just three minutes 
to bring in a verdict for the defendants. 
As General Marshall put it, the prosecu- 
tions "begun with a shout" had "ended 
with a whisper." 74 Nevertheless, suspicion 
of wrongdoing lingered in the public 
mind. The "colossal cantonment steals" 
of World War I — the phrase is H. L. 
Mencken's — became an American myth, 
and echoes of scandal reverberated down 
through the years. 

Early in 1924, while the construction 
world awaited Judge Hoehling's de- 
cision, a joint committee of Congress 
began hearings on proposals to reorganize 
the government. An imposing array of 
witnesses appeared in support of a public 
works department — officials, professors, 
and industry spokesmen. Propounding 
the classic argument for consolidation, 
Secretary of Commerce Hoover testified: 
"At the present moment we have a great 
many departments doing construction 
work. Congress today has no knowledge 
of the totals of our construction activ- 
ities." 75 Speaking for the American Soci- 
ety of Civil Engineers, Leonard Metcalf 
elaborated on this theme: 

The Engineer Corps stands rather as 
an executor of works than as a plan- 
ner .... The question of a desirable 
project is, of course, a relative question. 
There are thousands of projects which are 
perfectly feasible. The relative economic 
desirability may be different, however. And 



"General R. C. Marshall, Jr., "Cantonment 
Suits Now in Discard," The Constructor, November 
1927, p. 19. 

74 H and S Joint Comm on Reorgn of the Admin 
Br of the Govt, 68th Cong, ist sess, Hearings on S 
Jt Res 282, p. 344 



my point was that ... it was not the 
function of the Engineer Corps, nor was it 
so regarded, I take it, by the Corps itself, to 
point out to Congress or to the Senator who 
might have been responsible for this measure 
that it was less desirable economically than 
a number of other projects which were be- 
fore them. 76 

Other witnesses contended that the new 
department would strengthen national 
defense. Looking at the matter from the 
standpoint of preparedness, Professor 
William F. Willoughby of the Institute 
for Government Research averred: 
"Should war break out, the Government 
would have its engineering ability prac- 
tically mobilized in one department, 
available for use .... Of course," 
he added, "it would then work under 
military direction." 77 A plan emerged 
for detailing Engineer officers to the 
public works department. Extolling the 
advantages of this plan to the Engineers, 
General Marshall stated: "I think it 
would be a distinct addition to their 
training . . . they would go back 
to the service and to the Army with a 
better development and a greater asset 
than can now be had . . . where 
their line of construction is limited." 78 
Opposition came from expected quar- 
ters, the Secretary of War and the Corps 
of Engineers. Called before the joint 
committee, Secretary Weeks presented 
a judicious argument for keeping things 
as they were. After weighing the pros 
and cons of transferring rivers and har- 
bors work from the War Department, 
he concluded: 

It is apparent that the principal points 
upon which decision might rest are in dis- 



n Ibid., pp. 253-55. 
77 Ibid., p. 72. 
7i lbid., p. 583. 



LEAN YEARS 



61 



pute; moreover, that they are not of a charac- 
ter to admit of practical proof one way or 
the other. ... In this connection, it 
should be remembered that the present ar- 
rangement has a record of many years of 
successful operation to its credit, whereas the 
proposed arrangement has little more than 
a theory with which to support its claim. 

I want to say at this point, Mr. Chairman, 
that I think one of the finest exhibitions in 
our Government has been the conduct of 
the rivers and harbors improvements under 
the Engineer Corps of the Army. . . . 
That the work could have been more eco- 
nomically done under civilian administration, 
I do not believe. 79 

Last minute witnesses, appearing at their 
own request, were General Beach and 
Colonel Sherrill. Disposing of insinua- 
tions about "little creeks and streams" 
(the Board of Engineers for Rivers and 
Harbors, created in 1902, was an effec- 
tive safeguard against pork-barrel proj- 
ects), Beach warned the committee 
against flying to ills they knew not of. 
Civilians, he emphasized, would be far 
more responsive to political pressure than 
military men. Questioned about the wis- 
dom of detailing Engineers to the pro- 
posed department, he ridiculed the idea 
that officers could be effectively trained 
outside the Army. Taking a bolder line 
than the Chief, Colonel Sherrill made a 
strong bid for more construction func- 
tions. High on his list was the work of the 
Constructing Quartermaster General. 
Both Beach and Sherrill identified pro- 
ponents of a public works department 
with the "vicious" cost-plus system. In 
fact, they suggested, the real purpose of 
these men was to fasten that system on 
the government. Alluding to cost-plus 
profiteering in the recent war, General 
Beach observed: "It was a good deal like 



n Ibid., pp. 1 16-17. 



the traditional tiger getting his taste of 
human blood." 80 

The testimony of Beach and Sherrill 
produced a sharp reaction within con- 
struction circles. In a resolution of cen- 
sure, the executive board of the Ameri- 
can Society of Civil Engineers branded 
the statements of these officers as "mani- 
festly unfair and grossly inaccurate" and 
deplored their "wholesale charges of graft 
and incompetency." The resolution went 
on to urge that, "in the best interest 
of the people of the United States," all 
river and harbor work be placed "under 
civilian and not under military engineer- 
ing direction." 81 A press release issued 
by the society raised the following ques- 
tions: did the Corps of Engineers honestly 
believe that members of the profession 
outside its own ranks were untrust- 
worthy; did the Engineers deny that the 
building of the wartime cantonments 
was a creditable achievement; did the 
Chief of Engineers endorse charges which 
no court had upheld? 82 Joining in the 
condemnation of Beach and Sherrill, 
Frederick L. Cranford, president of the 
AGC, labeled their attacks on brother 
engineers as "despicable and damnable." 
He contended that the Corps had "fixed 
upon a policy of destroying the estab- 
lished method of conducting construction 
work in this country" and would use 
any means to accomplish its purpose. 
Unless the Engineers were stopped, 
virtually all federal construction would 
sooner or later come under their con- 
trol. Only by the creation of a public 



*>lbid., pp. 695-715, 743-746. 

81 Resolution, ASCE, Board of Direction, Apr 8, 
1934. Reprinted in The Constructor, May 1934, p. 34. 

M Rpt, ASCE Gomm on Public Relations. Re- 
printed in The Constructor, May 1924, pp. 34, 51-52. 



62 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



works department could this blow be 
averted. 83 

If civil engineers and general con- 
tractors believed a change was neces- 
sary, the joint committee of Congress 
did not. In its report, released in June 
1924, the committee rejected the idea 
of a public works department. On the 
subject of the Engineers' civil responsi- 
bilities, its findings were as follows: "The 
assignment of Army Engineers to river 
and harbor work is at the present time 
the principal means whereby these of- 
ficers can acquire the engineering ex- 
perience necessary to fit them to meet 
the demands put upon them in time of 
war; and, on the other hand, there is a 
measure of economy in using personnel 
of the Corps of Engineers on necessary 
public works of a nonmilitary charac- 
ter." The committee recommended 
against a transfer of functions from the 
Corps. 84 Terming this verdict "illogical" 
and complaining of "political pressure 
strongly brought to bear in this way and 
that," General Marshall sounded the 
call for a new offensive. Leaving the 
campaign for legislative action largely 
to the Federated Engineering Societies, 
he launched attacks along another front. 85 

In speeches and articles, in testimony 
before Congressional committees, in 
every forum open to him, Marshall de- 
nounced the Engineers as socialistic. 
Increasingly, river and harbor improve- 
ments were being accomplished under 
the system known as day labor or pur- 
chase and hire. The building of the 
Panama Canal had furnished a striking 
demonstration of the system's effective- 
ness; and an Act of July 27, 191 6, pro- 

83 The Constructor, November 1924, p. 38. 

M H Doc 356, 68th Cong, 1st sess, 3 Jun 24, p. 21. 

BS The Constructor, June 1924, pp. 28, 50, 



vided that no navigation or flood control 
project would be done by contract if 
bids exceeded by 25 percent the esti- 
mated cost of the job. 88 By 1924 the En- 
gineers were doing 75 percent of their 
work by day labor as against 1 2 percent 
in 1900; and capital investment in 
government-owned equipment was about 
$50 million as compared with $2.5 mil- 
lion a quarter of a century earlier. 87 
Condemning the Corps' use of day labor, 
Marshall told a House committee: 

The Bolshevistic regime of Russia favors 
the taking of industry by the Government, 
the nationalization of industry, and its opera- 
tion by individuals on the Government pay- 
roll. The Corps of Engineers of the Army 
favors the application of the same principle 
to the Government work which falls under 
its control. ... It actually operates 
whatever industry it controls as the soviet 
Government in Russia would operate it. 

He went on to argue, in this case justly, 
that Engineer estimates were too low, 
since they made no allowance for hid- 
den costs, such as interest and insurance. 
Extending over four years, Marshall's 
crusade failed. 88 Regularly, bills were 
introduced to compel the Corps to do 
more work by contract; with equal 
regularity, Congress declined to enact 
such legislation. 

One of several proposals for a public 
works department discarded by Congress 
during the Coolidge administration, the 
Wyant bill of 1927 called forth a thought- 
ful statement by Secretary of War Davis. 
Taking up the "specious arguments, 
speculations, and postulates" advanced 
by the opposition, he disposed of them, 



"39 Stat. 411. 

87 H Subcomm of the Comm on the Judiciary, 
69th Cong, ist sess, Hearings on H R 8902, pp. 1-12. 

88 (1) Ibid., p. 34. (2) The campaign can be 
followed in the pages of The Constructor, 1924-28. 



LEAN YEARS 



63 



one by one. To consolidate all engineer- 
ing in one department would be as sense- 
less as to consolidate all chemistry. En- 
gineering was a means to an end, not an 
end in itself. Each operating unit ought 
to have its own technical force. There 
was no advantage in bigness as such; 
quite the contrary. Competition made 
for efficiency. Turning to questions of 
the Engineers' competence, the Secretary 
pointed out that there were no complaints 
from users of the waterways and people 
of the river valleys. The service of the 
Corps had been exceptional. After men- 
tioning the Panama Canal, the work on 
the Mississippi, the deepening of the 
Great Lakes harbors and channels, and 
the improvements along the coasts, Davis 
went on to state: "The Corps of Engineers 
of the Army has built up a degree of 
respect and a capacity for teamwork 
which I do not believe are equaled, and 
certainly not surpassed in either private 
or Government organizations. . . . 
No other bureau can hope to achieve this 
coherence without the fraternal back- 
ground of war sacrifice which is its in- 
spiration." Predicting that in future wars 
engineering would be "even more im- 
portant and far more complicated" 
than in the past, Davis held that "a com- 
petent and versatile" Corps of Engineers 
was essential for adequate defense. The 
civil works responsibility was a guaran- 
tee that such a corps would be availa- 
ble. 89 

As the turbulent twenties drew to a 
close, the Engineers moved to heal the 
breach with industry. A younger genera- 
tion of officers moved into key positions 



M Ltr, Davis to Rep William Williamson, 25 Jan 
28. In H Comm on Expenditures in the Executive 
Depts, 70th Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on H R 8127, 
PP- 3-6- 



in the Corps. Old policies gave way to 
new, and moderate views prevailed. A 
cost accounting system, the first in the 
federal government, produced more ac- 
curate estimates and enabled contractors 
to bid successfully for river and harbor 
jobs. A 300-million-dollar program of 
flood control, adopted in the wake of 
the 1927 disaster, was designed to make 
maximum use of contracting firms. Work 
was "packaged" in such a way that small 
concerns could bid as well as large; 
specifications were revised to throw less 
risk on contractors; and the Corps' cost 
and experience records were opened to 
prospective bidders. In a message to the 
AGC convention at Chicago in February 
1929, Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Jackson 
of the Mississippi River Commission ex- 
plained that a certain amount of day 
labor was "vital" to the Corps' existence, 
but, he said: "We want this; we want 
no more." 90 On becoming Chief of En- 
gineers in the fall of 1929, Maj. Gen. 
Lytle Brown announced that all river 
and harbor work would be done by con- 
tract except where it was "manifestly 
impracticable or a waste of government 
funds." 91 Industry spokesmen applauded 
the "new spirit of sincerity and coopera- 
tion." 92 Unquestionably, a change in 
the management of the AGC did much 
to promote this spirit. General Marshall's 
resignation in May 1928 helped usher in 
an era of good feeling between con- 
tractors and the Corps of Engineers. 

Hoover's elevation to the Presidency 
gave fresh impetus to the movement 



10 Brig. Gen. Thomas H. Jackson, "A New Policy 
on Flood Control Work," The Constructor, April 1939, 
pp. 26-29. 

91 Ltr, Brown to Editor. In The Constructor, Novem- 
ber 1929, p. 51. 

n lbid., October 1930, p. 24. 



64 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



for a department of public works. During 
his term as Chief Executive, at least a 
dozen messages went from the White 
House to Capitol Hill requesting au- 
thority to reorganize the government, 
and several bills to create a works agency 
received the Presidential blessing. Hear- 
ings on these bills took a curious turn as 
witness after witness was called upon 
to explain why all federal construction 
should not come under the Army En- 
gineers. Hoover's endeavor reached its 
high point in June 1932, with the enact- 
ment of legislation empowering him to 
make governmental reorganizations, sub- 
ject to Congressional approval. Hoover 
could come no closer to his goal. In 
January 1933 Congress disapproved an 
executive order, transferring the civil 
functions of the Corps of Engineers to 
the Interior Department. The next move 
would be up to the incoming adminis- 
tration. 98 

During the early years of the New Deal, 
the proposal for a works department was 
revived. Secretary of the Interior Ickes, 
a proponent of the plan, waged a cam- 
paign against the Engineers which was 
no less determined than the one Gen- 
eral Marshall had conducted in the 
twenties. But despite Ickes' almost fa- 
natical zeal, the effort failed. Years of 
study by Executive commissions and 
prolonged debate in Congress culminated 
in the Reorganization Act of 1 939, which 
granted the President extraordinary pow- 
ers but specifically exempted the Corps 



( 1 ) H Comm on Expenditures in the Executive 
Depts, 7 2d Gong, ist sess, Hearings on H R 6665 and 
H R 6670, pp. 40-41, 65, 93-94, in, 159, 179. (2) 
47 Stat. 413. (3) H Doc 493, 72d Cong, ad sess, 9 Dec 
32. (4) 76 Cong. Rec. 2109. 



of Engineers. 94 When questioned about 
the "conflict" between the Engineers 
and the Interior Department's Bureau 
of Reclamation, Roosevelt expressed the 
feeling that "these two construction 
agencies ought to be maintained . . . 
in such a way that neither one of them 
would overwhelm the other." Empha- 
sizing that "both are extremely good," 
he continued: 

In case of war the Army Engineers are in- 
tended, the great bulk of them, for service 
at the front with the Army and, therefore, we 
felt it would be a mistake to make them so big 
that they would do all the construction work. 

So we laid down what might be called a 
rule of thumb; and that was that they would 
continue to do all the harbor work, all the 
Mississippi work and all the river work where 
flood control was the primary function — flood 
control and navigation, the two being tied 
together; and to allocate the rest of the 
work ... in such a way that the 
Bureau of Reclamation would be kept going 
with equal importance to the Army Engi- 
neers — to keep both organizations function- 
ing. Each one would be merely a check on 
the other. The result is that we have now a 
very excellent system . . . . 94 

At session after session, for nearly two 
decades, Congress considered arguments 
for and against a transfer of river and 
harbor construction from the Corps of 
Engineers. The question was examined 
from every angle — efficiency, economy, 
and national defense. Proposals for a 



M (i) The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes, II, The 
Inside Straggle, 1936-1939 (New York: Simon and 
Schuster, 1954), 151-152, 318, 337~33 8 - (a) Tht 
Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1938, 
compiled by Samuel I. Rosenman (New York: The 
Macmillan Company, 1941), pp. 183-192. (3) 53 
Stat. 561. 

* 5 Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
1939 (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1941), 
P- 419- 



LEAN YEARS 



65 



change were invariably rejected. Weigh- 
ing heavily in the decisions of Congress 
was the conviction that the Corps' civil 
functions were essential to preparedness. 

Mobilization Plans 

With events of 191 7 fresh in mind, 
Congress had adopted safeguards against 
future unpreparedness. Aimed at pre- 
venting a repetition of the near chaos 
that reigned in the early months of the 
war were provisions of the 1920 Defense 
Act which defined responsibility for 
emergency planning. Under this law, 
the Assistant Secretary, as business head 
of the War Department, would develop 
plans for industrial mobilization and 
would oversee procurement; the Chief 
of Staff, as military head, would prepare 
plans for national defense and for mo- 
bilizing the nation's manhood. Hailing 
the act as "the beginning of a new era 
in the service of this department to the 
country," Secretary Weeks said in 1 92 1 : 
"It provides for an effective development 
of our strength in the protection of our 
ideals. The American people can now, 
in time of need, be guided in their mo- 
bilization through a system pre- 
pared ... in accordance with the 
best of military doctrines." 96 Unhappily, 
results fell short of expectations. The 
climate of American opinion during the 
peace decades was inhospitable to realistic 
planning for war. 

Machinery to implement the act went 
into operation in the early ig2o's. Secre- 
tary Davis took a first step toward in- 
dustrial preparedness in 1921, when he 



*• Report of the Secretary of War, igsi (Washington, 
1921), p. 8. 



created the Planning Branch, Office of 
the Assistant Secretary of War (OASW), 
and assigned to it these duties: deter- 
mine the productive capacity of Ameri- 
can industry, allocate facilities, and as- 
sure the supply of critical and strategic 
material. Secretary of War Weeks and 
Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby 
took a second step in 1922, when they 
established the Joint Army and Navy 
Munitions Board (ANMB). An out- 
growth of competition between the two 
services during the war, ANMB was to 
co-ordinate procurement of munitions 
and supplies required by the Army and 
Navy for war purposes. Finally, through 
the efforts of a few farsighted officers, the 
Army Industrial College was founded in 
1924 to promote the science of industrial 
preparedness. From this institution and 
its leading spirits — among them Majors 
James H. Burns and Charles T. Harris, 
Jr., of Ordnance and Col. Harley B. 
Ferguson of the Engineers — flowed much 
of the zeal that attended industrial plan- 
ning. On the other side of the house, 
in the War Department General Staff, 
logistical considerations received far less 
weight. Drawn largely from the line of 
the Army, the officers of the General 
Staff were, on the whole, better equipped 
to cope with problems of strategy and or- 
ganization than with problems of shelter 
and supply. 

Soon after its establishment, the Plan- 
ning Branch, OASW, began to study the 
nation's industry against the background 
of past mistakes and prospective needs. 
In 1 91 7 there had been no industrial 
inventory to guide procurement officials, 
and, as a result, unnecessary plants were 
built. Some factories were swamped with 
orders, while others operated far below 



66 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



capacity. Lack of information as to 
sources of power and raw materials, 
availability of labor, means of transpor- 
tation, and the like, led to confusion, 
delay, and needless expense. By June 
1923 plant surveys were well under way. 
Year after year Army representatives 
made the rounds, collecting production 
data and studying problems of conver- 
sion or expansion. Although the plan- 
ners recognized that many plants would 
have to be enlarged and some new ones 
built, they looked to industry to do the 
job.* 7 The planners respected what one 
of them termed "perhaps our greatest 
weapon . . . the potential capacity 
of American industries to produce mu- 
nitions." 98 

That a war construction program 
would be necessary was generally as- 
sumed by experts in logistics, but plans 
for such a program were a long time 
maturing. Not until 1929, when Assis- 
tant Secretary Patrick J. Hurley as- 
serted his authority over military con- 
struction, was there a policy covering 
this phase of mobilization : OASW would 
authorize projects and review plans; The 
Quartermaster General would super- 
vise the work. So great was the magnitude 
of the Assistant Secretary's mobilization 
task — marshaling the entire economic 
resources of the country — that a com- 
prehensive blueprint was long delayed. 
Admittedly tentative and fragmentary, 
the first Industrial Mobilization Plan 



» T (i) WD Bull 14, 17 Aug 23, sub: Industrial 
Mobilization, p. 4. (a) Constance M. Green, Harry 
G. Thomson, and Peter C. Roots, The Ordnance 
Department: Planning Munitions for War, UNITED 
STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washing, 
ton, 1955), pp. 54-55. 

" Testimony of Col Harry K. Rutherford, 6 May 
40. In S Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 3d scss, Hearings on H R 9209, p. 137. 



(IMP), completed in 1930, dealt with 
broader issues than construction." Early 
in 1 932, the head of the Planning Branch, 
OASW, averred : 

Of all the phases of industrial mobiliza- 
tion, it may be admitted that the problem of 
construction of new facilities and conversion 
and expansion of existing ones has lagged 
perhaps more than any other feature in 
reaching a solution. No definite directive 
has ever been furnished the supply arms and 
services on this subject and no clear cut 
methods of attacking the problem have ever 
been developed. 100 

The Planning Branch was not alone 
in neglecting this important aspect of 
preparedness. Rejecting lessons of the 
recent conflict, the General Staff evolved 
a scheme reminiscent of the war with 
Spain. The Mobilization Plan of 1924, 
prepared while General Pershing was 
Chief of Staff, incorporated the old 
principle of local mobilization. An army 
of 4 million men would be mustered in 
company, battalion, and regimental 
units, and, after a brief period of training, 
shipped overseas. Little, if any, new con- 
struction would be necessary. Although 
the 1924 plan mentioned The Quarter- 
master General as the Army's construc- 
tion agent, the 1928 plan was more 
consistent. Under this second plan, de- 
veloped during the term of General 
Charles P. Summerall as Chief of Staff, 
decentralization was virtually complete. 
In matters of supply, the corps area 
commanders were practically supreme. 



"(1) WD Ltr AG 381 (4-20-29) (Misc) C, 13 
May ag. (a ) Notes of Conf in OASW, by Capt W. R. 
White, OQMG, 30 Jul 29. Opns Br Files, Mobl 
Ping. (3) For a discussion of the IMP, 1930, see Harold 
W. Thatcher, Planning for Industrial Mobilization, 
1930-1940, QM Historical Study 4, 1943, pp. 84-96. 

>«» Memo, Dir Plug Br OASW for Dir AIC, 8 Jan 
3a. ASW Ping Br Files, Constr 337. 



LEAN YEARS 



67 



The commanders, not The Quarter- 
master General, would be responsible 
for shelter. 101 Discussing the philosophy 
behind this plan, a history of mobiliza- 
tion stated: "As the memory of World 
War I began to fade, the importance of 
supply began to fade also. . . . The 
planners . . . became obsessed with 
the preeminent importance of manpower, 
and, as the obsession grew, the other 
factors of mobilization ebbed in impor- 
tance." 102 

Lecturing at the Army War College 
in 1928, Col. James K. Parsons, chief 
of the Mobilization Branch, G— 3, ex- 
plained the staff's thinking on emergency 
construction. Recognizing that "an enor- 
mous amount" of shelter would be needed 
for mobilization, planners had given a 
great deal of thought to ways and means 
of providing it. Billeting had seemed the 
easiest solution, but because Congress 
probably would be unwilling to go along, 
no provision was made for quartering 
troops in private homes. Divisional 
camps and cantonments had also been 
ruled out. Construction would consume 
too much time and effort and place too 
great a burden on transportation sys- 
tems. And, besides, where were the great 
cantonments of World War I? Most of 
them were gone. In another emergency, 
the Army would follow a different course : 

In lieu of camps and cantonments [Parsons 
related] the policy is to charge each corps 
area commander with the responsibility of 
procuring shelter for the troops mobilized 
by him. It is understood that he will under- 
take no construction unless he finds that after 
full use is made of available public buildings, 



101 (1) WD Gen Mobilization Plan, 1924. AG 
381 (5-1-24) (Misc C). (2) WD Gen Mobilization 
Plan, 1928. AG 381 (8-1-28) (Misc C). 

101 Kreidberg and Henry, History of Military 
Mobilization, p, 415. 



supplemented by available tentage and suita- 
ble privately-owned buildings, additional 
shelter is still required. 103 

Again, as in the Spanish-American War, 
troops would occupy fairgrounds, race 
tracks, and the like. In 1898 the Mary- 
land National Guard had gone to Pim- 
lico. Parsons suggested that the 29th 
Division be quartered in Baltimore's 
huge Montgomery Ward building and 
drilled in nearby Carroll Park. 14 * Asked 
later what he thought of this idea, the 
29th's commander shook his head and 
said: "Preposterous." 106 

The philosophy of the General Staff 
was slow to change. The phrase 
"minimum construction" ran like 
a thread through all its plans. Gen- 
eral MacArthur, who succeeded 
Summerall as Chief of Staff in 1930, 
continued to support the no-canton- 
ment thesis. Testifying before the War 
Policies Commission in May 1931, 
MacArthur stated: "A mobilization plan 
must depend on certain basic assump- 
tions of fact. Upon the correctness of 
these assumptions depends the success- 
ful application of the plan." Plans for- 
mulated during his regime were based 
on three assumptions; and one was: 

That great cantonments, such as we had in 
the World War, will not be constructed. Full 
utilization of Federal, State, county, and 
municipal buildings will be made as troop 
shelter. Where necessary, arrangements will 
be made to use privately owned buildings. 106 

That MacArthur, an Engineer and one 
of the most brilliant soldiers of his time, 



101 Lecture by Col Parsons, 13 Sep 28. AG 381 
(GMP28). 

101 Truman Comm Hearings, Part 2, p. 478. 
,M Interv with Maj Gen Milton A. Reckord, 25 
Nov 58. 

106 h Doc 163, 72d Cong, 1st sess, pp. 357-58. 



68 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



could make this assumption indicated 
the extent to which pacifism and penury- 
had undermined military judgment. 

As these plans of the General Staff 
took shape, the M-day capability of the 
Construction Service declined. In the 
early 1 920's the Service was blessed with 
a wealth of war experience and a strong 
Reserve. On file in the central office 
were structural drawings, organizational 
blueprints, layouts, specifications, and 
a history of the wartime division — all 
turned over by General Marshall. Many 
members of his "construction crew" 
were Quartermaster Reservists, and a 
Construction Division Association formed 
an active link between past and present. 
A Planning Branch in the Washington 
headquarters was the guiding force. 
Heading it were able and experienced 
officers — Captain Hobson, Capt. Edward 
M. George, and Col. Milosh R. Hilgard. 
Their principal civilian aide, William 
F. Kinney — "our wheelhorse," they 
called him — was a dedicated man. In 
each of the nine corps areas, a construc- 
tion district, manned by Reservists, 
made plans for construction. During 
1925 almost 500 Reserve officers par- 
ticipated in this planning. With the 
publication of the 1928 Mobilization 
Plan, virtually all activity ceased. The 
construction Reserve now came under 
the corps area commanders, the dis- 
tricts disappeared, and the Planning 
Branch merged with the War Planning 
and Training Branch, OQMG. Interest 
in the Construction Division Association 
waned. Wartime records went into stor- 
age. The loss was nearly total. 107 

In the eyes of the General Staff, the 



107 Jesse A. Remington, Planning for Mobilization 
(MS), 1963, pp. 5) 13-16, 33. 



Constructing Quartermaster General had 
but one M-day duty — to provide struc- 
tural plans for such additional shelter 
as might be necessary. The type of 
structure to be used was a debated ques- 
tion. In 1923, on General Pershing's 
orders, the Construction Service pre- 
pared tracings for prefabricated wooden 
structures. To be manufactured in sec- 
tions at the mills, these small one-story 
portables were designed for quick and 
easy erection by troops or unskilled 
workmen. 108 Asked for an opinion as 
to the military potential of prefabs, 
William A. Starrett wrote: "As a prac- 
tical matter the thing would be a disap- 
pointment, if not a disaster." He pointed 
out that prefabs would necessitate longer 
roads and utility lines than the larger two- 
story cantonment types. Productive ca- 
pacity was small, and a prefab order for 
50,000 troops would "swamp the mills 
of the country." Furthermore, Starrett 
warned, transporting the bulky sections 
would be no easy matter. 109 From the 
construction standpoint, these arguments 
were valid. But five years were to pass 
before permission to update the World 
War cantonment drawings came through. 
By early 1929, a few rough sketches — 
the first in the new 700 series — were 
ready for inspection. Although G— 4 ap- 
proved these plans, the General Staff 
continued to have a predilection for pre- 
fabs. 110 

As the illusion of permanent world 
peace began to dissolve in the mid- 1 930' s, 
a small but vocal group of men raised 

10 »QM 634 (1922-34). 

1M Ltr, Starrett to ExecO Constr Scrv, 22 May 23. 
QM 634 (1922-34). 

uo (i) Memo, Cheatham for Horton, 2 Jul 28. 
(2) Ltr, Cheatham to TAG, 30 Jan 29. Both in 
Opns Br Files, Mobl Ping. (3) Memo, G-4 for TAG, 
15 Feb 29. G— 4/20052-19. 



LEAN YEARS 



69 



the cry for realistic planning. Chief 
among them were Col. Charles T. Harris, 
director of the Planning Branch, OASW, 
and Lt. Col. James L. Frink, who headed 
The Quartermaster General's planning 
organization. Also prominent in this 
movement were Maj. Douglas C. 
Cordiner, the Quartermaster officer who 
was Harris' adviser on construction; 
Maj. Theodore P. Heap, Frink' s deputy; 
and the hard-working Kinney. Express- 
ing the attitude of this small band was 
Colonel Harris' homily: 

Even though we all deprecate war and 
feel that it is an unhappy undertaking, it 
must be remembered that every generation 
in the United States born prior to 191 8 has 
seen a war. Until human nature can be 
changed it is only logical to expect that the 
future will bring more wars. If wars are bound 
to come, it is our duty so to plan as to mini- 
mize the harmful effects of war and to insure 
that this nation be victorious. 111 

In the spring of 1934, Harris and his 
colleagues were joined by Colonel Hart- 
man, or, as he came to be known, 
"Mr. Construction himself." 

Returning to Washington in 1934 
after an 8-year absence, Hartman 
checked on the status of plans for emer- 
gency construction. The facts were chill- 
ing. The Planning Branch of the Con- 
struction Division, recently revived by 
General Bash, was starved for funds and 
woefully undermanned. The only known 
requirements were for remount depots, 
distribution centers for horses and mules; 
and the only detailed layouts were for 
these Quartermaster facilities. The 700 
series drawings were in a sad state: a 
few tracings for barracks, mess halls, 



111 Col. G. T. Harris, Jr., "Industry and National 
Defense," Army Ordnance, vol, XVI, no. 96 (May- 
June 1936), p. 331. 




Colonel Hartman 



storehouses, and sheds — that was all. 
Many details were missing; there were 
numerous structural flaws; and the 
lumber sizes called for were no longer 
produced commercially. Equally dis- 
tressing, not a single copy of General 
Marshall's history was around. Hartman 
did his best to repair the damage. He 
threw himself into the struggle for realis- 
tic M-day plans and called for a thor- 
oughgoing revision of the 700 series. 112 
No such effort could succeed completely. 
"We had no money," Hartman ex- 
plained. Planning was "a side line rather 
than a fixed job." 113 

Research undertaken by the Army 
Industrial College disclosed an enormous 
gap between accomplishments and needs 
in the field of construction planning. 



111 ( 1 ) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. 
1-2. (2) Memo, Kinney for Frink, 7 Feb 34. Opns Br 
Files, Mobl Ping. 

111 Testimony of Gen Hartman, 1 2 Aug 41 , In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 7, p. 2040. 



70 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



After reviewing the wartime experience 
and evaluating current plans in the light 
of this experience, a committee headed 
by Maj. Raymond G. Moses of the 
Corps of Engineers submitted a 96-page 
study of the problem. Gravely critical 
of existing plans, the committee urged 
prompt corrective action. The fact had 
to be faced: mobilization would require 
a major construction effort. Plans had 
to be made accordingly. The committee 
underscored the need for firm con- 
struction requirements, for a survey of 
the building industry, for uniform types 
of emergency contracts, for standard 
plans and specifications, and for a strong 
organization in the field. Most impor- 
tant, Moses and his colleagues held: 
"There should be centralized control of 
all construction activities in the Army." 114 
Armed with the findings of the Moses 
group, Colonel Harris called together 
representatives of G-4 and the Arms 
and Services in September 1934. After 
describing the "mammoth size" of the 
emergency construction task and re- 
ceiving a lukewarm response, Harris 
told the others bluntly: 

It is absolutely necessary to get this con- 
struction control actively oriented and begin 
to get some plans for its accomplishment. It 
will be the first load placed on industrial 
America when war is declared. We must 
get requirements from the Corps Area Com- 
manders for their needs. We must get re- 
quirements for industrial needs .... 
We have got to analyze the priorities and get 
that coordinated. If the Corps Area Com- 
mander should not be charged with con- 
struction, we must get it changed .... 
The thing we have to plan is what we are 
going to do and how. 111 



u< AIC Rpt on Problem 1 7, Conversion and Con- 
struction of Facilities, ai Feb 34. QM oao (Constr) 
1921-39. 

»• Min of Mtg in Ping Br OASW, 11 Sep 34. 
G-4/aoo52-55. 



Failing to rally much support, Harris 
tried to start the ball rolling with the 
help of Frink and Hartman. 

Battling the high tide of pacifism and 
isolationism, the planners made uncer- 
tain progress. Reflecting the mood of 
the American people were the Nye com- 
mittee investigation of the international 
arms traffic and the branding of muni- 
tions manufacturers as "merchants of 
death"; the passage of neutrality acts 
in 1935 and 1937; and the embargo on 
exports of war materials to belligerents 
in the Spanish Civil War. As late as 
October 1937 the President's appeal 
for a quarantine against aggressors evoked 
no popular response. So pervasive was 
this mood that it infected even top levels 
of the War Department. In this situa- 
tion, planning funds were hard to come 
by, and planning continuity was diffi- 
cult to maintain. Much that needed doing 
remained undone. Nevertheless, the plan- 
ners scored some gains. 

Assistant Secretary Harry H. Wood- 
ring scored one gain on 14 June 1935, 
when he approved drafts of two emer- 
gency construction contracts. Developed 
in co-operation with the AGC, these 
forms would supersede the controversial 
agreement used in World War I. The 
first, designed "for relatively small proj- 
ects where the scope of the work is known, 
and there is small probability of material 
changes and where time will permit 
competitive bidding," was a fixed-price 
contract with an "escalator" clause. 
This clause provided for increases in the 
contract price when wages or prices 
rose. The second form was a negotiated 
"evaluated fee" contract. Based on the 
cost-plus-a-percentage principle, this 
agreement introduced a novel method 
of computing fees. In 191 7-18 contrac- 
tors had received a percentage of the 



LEAN YEARS 



71 



cost of the work regardless of the quality 
of their performance or the efficiency of 
their operations. The new form pro- 
vided a bonus for good work and a pen- 
alty for bad. Although it perpetuated 
the basic defect of all percentage con- 
tracts by using actual costs to measure 
the value of contractors' services, it 
nevertheless gave the War Department 
a larger measure of control. 116 

Another significant advance was in 
the field of engineering. According to 
one informed estimate, it would take a 
technical force of 25 to 50 men 5 years 
to complete preparations — drawings, 
specifications, bills of materials, and 
layouts — for a major war construction 
effort. 117 "Of course," as Frink recalled, 
"the main trouble was always money." 
In the summer of 1935, with the help 
of Colonel Hartman, who had recently 
become chief of the Construction Branch, 
G—4, General Guiney was able to secure 
$55,000 in relief money. "A godsend," 
Frink called it. Work on the 700-series 
plans began anew in the fall. In the 
spring of 1937 revised drawings went to 
the General Staff, and Hartman had the 
satisfaction of approving them for the 
War Department. Although much had 
been accomplished, the plans were still 
far from complete. 118 

Meanwhile, an attempt to dilute the 
already weak authority of the Construct- 
ing Quartermaster came to nothing. Who 
would build for Ordnance and Chemical 
Warfare? On this issue opinions dif- 



118 Ltr, Harris to Bash, 16 Aug 35. QM 160 II. 
The contract forms are in QM 160 (Constr Contract) 
and QM 160 (Evaluated Fee Constr Contract). 

117 Memo, H. L. Burt for TQMG, 16 Jan 26. QM 
381 (Policies, Precedents, etc.) 1925-40. 

118 ( 1 ) Answers to Questionnaire, Frink to authors, 
22 Apr 64. (2) Memo, G-4 for CofS, 8 Jul 35. G- 
4/20052-55. (3) Ltr, TQMG to TAG, 24 Apr 37, and 
1st Ind, 5 May 37. QM 600.1 (MobI) 1936. 



fered. The view of the using services 
was expressed by a Chemical Warfare 
officer in September 1934: "Control of 
construction facilities through a central- 
ized .point in time of war would break 
down of its own weight. All our plans 
are built around decentralized opera- 
tions." 11 * Six months later Ordnance 
made a bid to handle its own construc- 
tion: Colonel Harris proposed that the 
using service appoint the officers who 
would direct the work. 120 Quartermaster 
officers opposed this change as a viola- 
tion of the National Defense Act. Writing 
to the Assistant Secretary, Colonel Frink 
explained : 

This law . . . was brought about 
by the chaotic conditions existing in the 
early stages of the World War where . . . 
valuable time was lost, much confusion 
created, and greatly increased costs were 
directly attributable to the systems of control 
and supervision advocated in the proposed 
changes. 121 

There the matter rested. 

The trend appeared to be in the right 
direction. On becoming Chief of Staff 
in October 1935, General Malin Craig 
reviewed the M-day plans and ordered 
a complete revision. By early 1936 a 
three-man committee, headed by Colonel 
Hartman, was at work restudying the 
problem of emergency shelter. Extremely 
critical of decentralization, the Hartman 
committee received strong support from 
corps area commanders, who held that 
the War Department's "makeshift" 
policy of using racetracks, fairgrounds, 



u » Min of Mtg in Ping Br OASW, 1 1 Sep 34. 
G-4/20052-55. 

1.0 Draft of Amendment 1 to Ping Br Circ 3, 22 
Mar 35. QM 600. r (1 918-41). 

1.1 Memo, Frink for ASW, 23 Apr 35. QM 600.1 
(1918-41). 



72 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



and public buildings was not feasible. 122 
The committee's stand for centraliza- 
tion would be reflected, though faintiy, 
in later mobilization plans. Louis A. 
Johnson, who succeeded Woodring as 
Assistant Secretary of War in June 1937, 
gave new impetus to industrial planning. 
In collaboration with his executive, 
Col. James H. Burns — "the finest officer 
in the U.S. Army," in Johnson's 
words 128 — the new Assistant Secretary 
tried to get rearmament rolling. During 
his first year in office, he traveled 
50,000 miles, preaching the gospel of 
preparedness. 124 

Under Johnson's leadership, progress 
on the industrial front was good. With 
the co-operation of DuPont and other 
armaments manufacturers, the Chiefs 
of Ordnance and Chemical Warfare 
selected sites and developed typical plans 
for plants to be built in an emergency. 
The setting up of a Wilmington office 
in 1937 enabled the Ordnance Depart- 
ment to maintain close liaison with 
DuPont engineers. 126 Guidelines for fu- 
ture plant construction appeared in the 
War Construction Plan of 1937, which 
was based on the most recent edition 
of IMP, published in 1936. Under the 
construction plan, the number of new 
plants would be held to the minimum 
and such building as was necessary 
would be done by industry under the 
supervision of the using services. 126 The 

1M ( 1 ) Kreidberg and Henry, History of Military 
Mobilization, p. 475. (a) WDGS SO 5, 7 Jan 36. (3) 
Remarks of Col Hartman at G-i Gonf, 4-16 May 36. 
AG 381 (7CA GMP-Gen). (4) AG 381 (7-7-33). 

153 Interv with Louis A. Johnson, 9 May 56. 

1M Annual Rpt of ASW, 1938, p. 19. 

125 Harry C. Thomson and Lida Mayo, The 
Ordnance Department: Procurement and Supply, UNITED 
STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washing- 
ton, 1960), pp. 11-12. 

us Planning Br OASW, War Construction Plan, 
1937, pp. 15-16. EHD Files. 



plan thus reaffirmed the Army's faith in 
the war potential of private enter- 
prise. Johnson's greatest contributions 
were not to construction planning but 
to production. It was largely because 
of his efforts that the War Department 
was able to encourage industrial prepara- 
tions for war, through a program of 
production studies and educational or- 
ders in the late 1930's. 127 

The result of General Craig's 1936 
directive, the Protective Mobilization 
Plan (PMP) of 1938 envisioned a moder- 
ate-sized, balanced force for the defense 
of U.S. territory. 128 Emphasizing the 
purely defensive purpose of the plan, 
Secretary Woodring observed: 

In general, the protective mobilization plan 
visualizes in the event of a major war im- 
mediate employment of an initial protective 
force of approximately 400,000 men. This 
force will comprise existing units of the Regu- 
lar Army and National Guard . . . . 
Under the protection of this initial defensive 
force there will be progressively mobilized, 
trained, and equipped such larger national 
armies as the defense of the United States 
demands. 129 

To be ready eight months after M-day 
was a force of a million men. Plans for 
full-scale mobilization of a 4-million-man 
army remained somewhat nebulous. 
PMP contemplated virtually no con- 
struction. Regular Army divisions would 
assemble at home stations; National 
Guard divisions at state summer camps. 
The men would live in existing barracks 

( 1 ) Thomson and Mayo, Procurement and Supply, 
pp. 19-21. (2) R. Elberton Smith, The Army and 
Economic Mobilization, UNITED STATES ARMY 
IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, 1959), pp. 
61-65. (3) Co1 - H - K - Rutherford, "Educational 
Orders," Army Ordnance, November-December 1939, 

l62ff. 

118 For a detailed discussion of PMP see Kreidberg 
and Henry, History of Military Mobilization, ch. XIV. 
1M Report of the Secretary of War, igg8, p. a. 



LEAN YEARS 



73 



and in tents. Corps area commanders 
would provide tent floors, kitchens, and 
utilities. Moving overseas one month 
after M-day, the initial protective force 
would vacate shelter which would then be 
occupied by successive groups of men. 130 
Whether a large-scale construction effort 
would be undertaken in later stages of 
mobilization was left up in the air. The 
plan read: 

The acquisition of additional land and the 
construction of cantonments, or provision of 
housing facilities, for troops and installations 
not included in the Protection Mobilization 
Plan but which may be required at a later 
period is a function of The Quartermaster 
General and will be provided as directed 
by the War Department. He will maintain 
standard plans for buildings, and groups of 
buildings, and will so draw his plans that he 
will be able to undertake construction by 30 
M if so ordered. 131 

After the sidetracking of General 
Seaman in the summer of 1 938, Hartman 
fell to work on the plans for war con- 
struction. Securing $03,000 from WPA, 
he hired a staff to complete the 700 series 
drawings. Using some $200,000 in PWA 
money, he let contracts for a new building 
at Fort Myer, Virginia; ostensibly a 
warehouse, this structure was designed 
to hold a large emergency force of en- 
gineers and draftsmen. With the help 
of the Air Corps, he obtained aerial 
mosaics to supplement the division's 
collection of post maps, some of which 
were hopelessly out of date. 132 Meantime, 

1.0 Testimony of Gen Tyner, 7 Aug 41 . In Truman 
Coram Hearings, Part 7, pp. 1994-97. 

1.1 The Protective Mobilization Plan, 1939, sec. 
V, p. 11. AG 381 (10-31-38) (Misc) C-M. 

1M (i) QM 600.1 (Funds— Work Projects) II. 
(2) Memo, Maj Arthur R. Wilson for Budget and 
Legis Ping Br WDGS, 4 Oct 38. 0-4/29778. (3) 
Interv with Mr. Leisenring, 5 Jun 57. (4) QM 600.92 
1941. 



he charted the M-day organization and 
considered ways to streamline con- 
tracting methods. In pushing these prep- 
arations, Hartman faced several ob- 
stacles. One was Seaman, who scorn- 
fully referred to the mobilization struc- 
tures as "cigar boxes," 133 and who failed 
to foresee another war. 134 A second was 
the lack of requirements. With no idea 
how many units of what type and size 
might someday have to be housed, 
Hartman framed his typical layouts 
around the battalion. He later explained: 

In the plans that I formulated I conceived 
of block units each complete with water, 
sewage, housing, etc. These block units 
would care for roughly a battalion of men 
and could be modified for varying type units 
and multiplied for larger units. In addition, 
there were plans for special type installations. 
I believed, in general, that it was much easier 
to modify an existing detail plan than it was 
to begin from scratch on a new one. 136 

During Hartman' s stay in the division, 
the plans progressed steadily. But whether 
they would ever be put to use no one 
knew. 

A vast program of military construction 
to be undertaken on or before M-day — 
the War Department's plans did not 
foresee this eventuality. Prophets who 
foretold such a program and who warned 
that construction would be the controlling 
factor in mobilization were little honored. 
Nevertheless, their vision was clear. In 
Biblical imagery, the stone which the 
builders rejected would become the head- 
stone of the corner. 



155 Interv with Gen A. Owen Seaman, 2 Oct 57. 
1M Testimony of Gen Seaman, 7 Aug 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 7, p. 2021. 

138 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 1 . 



CHAPTER III 



Coming of the Emergency 



By 1939 the nation was beginning 
to rearm. An increasingly ominous world 
situation impelled the Army to assume 
a "position in readiness." Not knowing 
when, where, or under what circum- 
stances the United States might be called 
upon to fight, military leaders sought to 
prepare for any foreseeable eventuality. 
Efforts were made to enlarge the air 
and ground forces and to equip them 
with the latest weapons, to ready industry 
for war production, to stockpile materiel 
for the Initial Protective Force, and to 
strengthen the network of strategic bases. 1 
The Expansion Program, as these mea- 
sures, collectively, came to be known, 
made necessary the first major military 
construction effort since the Armistice. 
Between January 1939 and March 1940, 
approximately $175 million became 
available for building purposes. This 
money enabled the War Department 
to strengthen seacoast defenses, modern- 
ize arsenals, enlarge dozens of stations, 
and establish ten new installations — 
airdromes, depots, and garrison posts. 
Minuscule in comparison with the mo- 
bilization and war efforts that were to 
follow, the Expansion Program was 
nevertheless "a real start ... to- 
ward placing the Army on a basis of 



'Annual Rpt of the CofS, 1939. In Report of the 
Secretary of War to the President, 1939 (Washington, 
I939)- 



preparedness." 2 It was, moreover, the 
first real test of the construction system 
established by the Defense Act of 1920. 

The Expansion Program 

The program had its origins in the 
Munich Crisis. News that Britain and 
France had yielded to Hitler's demands 
came as something of a shock to people 
in the United States, The signing of the 
appeasement pact on 30 September 
1938 marked the beginning of a shift in 
American public opinion. Although iso- 
lationism was still prevalent, there was 
growing sentiment in favor of a strong 
home defense. Reports from Europe 
indicated that Prime Minister Chamber- 
lain and Premier Daladier, apprehensive 
over Germany's resurgent military power, 
viewed the Luftwaffe with particular 
alarm. 3 On 14 October, having sat up 
late the night before "hearing the Euro- 
pean side of things" from his ambassador 
to France, President Roosevelt an- 
nounced that the defense picture was 
due for a "complete restudy." Ques- 
tioned by reporters, he refused to outline 
a specific program, revealing only that 



»Rpt of the ASW for F.Y. 1940. In Report of 
Secretary of War to the President, 1Q40 (Washington, 
1940), p. 1. 

8 ( 1 ) William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, 
The Challenge to Isolation, 1937-1943 (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1952), pp. 35-38. (2) Watson, 
Chief of Staff, pp. 130-32. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



75 



he was considering, among other mat- 
ters, mass production of airplanes.* 
Within a week of the President's an- 
nouncement the War Department was 
humming with planning activity. 

Reporting to Assistant Secretary- 
Johnson's office on 31 October, Lt. 
Col. Russell L. Maxwell, an expert in 
air ordnance called to Washington a 
few days before, was struck by the vast- 
ness of Johnson's projects and the broad 
scope of his authority. The first person 
Maxwell encountered was Johnson's 
executive, Colonel Burns, who spoke of 
a White House meeting on 25 October 
at which the President had stated that 
war was on the way. Burns revealed 
that because Secretary Woodring and 
Chief of Staff Craig did not share this 
view, Roosevelt was leaving them out 
of his councils, relying on Johnson in- 
stead. Among those the President was 
consulting were Maj. Gen. Henry H. 
Arnold, Chief of the Air Corps, Brig. 
Gen. George C. Marshall, Craig's new 
deputy, and representatives of the Navy 
and the WPA. Roosevelt, it seemed, was 
concerned almost entirely with planes 
and plane production. 5 General Arnold 
believed the Chief Executive was "think- 
ing largely of how American industrial 
power might help to supply the air needs 
of those obvious friends abroad who were 
now being squeezed to the point of des- 
peration by Germany." 6 On the after- 
noon of his arrival, Maxwell attended 



* Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
193 s * PP- 546-4& 

' (i) Interv with Maj Gen Russell L. Maxwell, 
15 Feb 57; Burns Interv, 24 May 56. (a) Ltr, ASW, 
ASN, and Dep Admin WPA, to the President, a8 Oct 
38. AG 580 (10-19-38) Bulky, Increase of the AC. 
(3) Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 132-33, 136. 

•Henry H. Arnold, Global Mission (New York: 
Harper & Brothers, 1949), p. 173. 



a planning session. "The conference," he 
said, "was discussing such large numbers 
of airplanes, . . . airplane factories, 
airplane pilots and mechanics that, fresh 
as I was from our very conservative head- 
quarters of the GHO_, Air Force, I found 
it a bit difficult to take it all in." During 
the next two weeks, conference followed 
conference as Johnson and his associates 
endeavored to block out an air expan- 
sion program. 7 

General Craig viewed rearmament 
in a different light. His goal was the 
balanced military force envisioned in 
the Defense Act and in the mobiliza- 
tion plans — a well-organized, all-purpose 
force, capable of quick expansion. To 
rebuild the Army along these lines would 
take a great deal more than planes. Men, 
guns, camps, and munitions plants would 
also be necessary. 8 The Chief of Staff 
emphasized the decisive role of land 
armies. In 1939, on the eve of his retire- 
ment, he reaffirmed his position: 

No navy, no air force, can operate except 
from protected bases. It is only necessary to 
allow hostile ground troops to advance over 
their bases and their manufacturing facilities 
and they cease to exist .... New 
devices for war are of critical importance. To 
be without them invites failure. But we must 
never lose sight of the fact that we must 
guarantee their continued production and 
use. . . . Considered and concentrated 
attention upon the adequacy and efficiency 
of ground forces can never be neglected. 
There lies final success or failure.' 

Along with Secretary Woodring, Craig 
stressed the fact that the Army's mission 
was defensive. Both men saw the need 
for increased military preparedness as 



1 Speech by Col Maxwell to a group of Ord 
officers (Jan 39). Maxwell's Papers. 

» Watson, Chief of Staff , pp. 127-28, 130-3.?, 134-35- 
'Report of the Secretary of War, 1939, pp. 24-25. 



76 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



stemming not so much from the inter- 
national crisis as from recent technologi- 
cal advances which had "so shortened 
the elements of distance and time" that 
"our national security was no longer 
assured by the broad expanses of the 
Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans." 10 

While the early November confer- 
ences in the Assistant Secretary's office 
dealt principally with ways and means 
of increasing aircraft production, the 
planners agreed that the objective should 
be broader. Johnson and Burns, tireless 
workers in the cause of industrial pre- 
paredness, sought means of expanding 
the country's capacity for making muni- 
tions. A great believer in war reserves, 
General Marshall wished to see that Ord- 
nance was well provided for. Although 
gratified by the President's interest in 
air power, General Arnold pointed out 
that planes alone would not make an 
air force. Construction figured impor- 
tantly in the thinking of these men. 
Plants, warehousing, barracks, schools, 
airfields, and air depots — all these and 
more were on the list of needed facilities, 
a list which continued to grow. Owing 
largely to Burns' efforts, planning was 
gradually directed back into regular 
channels. As framed by the Chief of 
Staff, the War Department's program 
included substantial increases not only 
for the Air Corps but for the other arms 
and services as well. How much of this 
plan the President and Congress would 
adopt was a subject of conjecture. 11 

On 14 November the first of two mo- 
mentous meetings took place at the 
White House. Johnson, Craig, Arnold, 
Marshall, and Burns were there for the 

10 Ibid., p. 2. See also pp. 4, 25-26. 

u (i) Maxwell Speech (Jan 39). (2) Watson, 
Chief of Staff, pp. 141?. (3) Johnson Interv, 9 May 56; 
Burns Interv, 24 May 56; Maxweli Interv, 15 Feb 57. 



War Department. The President spoke 
at length — of German leadership in air- 
craft production, of America's weak 
defenses, and of threats to the Western 
Hemisphere and the need for countering 
them. The first requirement was for 
planes, he said. A fleet of 20,000 and a 
capacity for manufacturing 24,000 an- 
nually would be desirable. But because 
Congress might refuse so large a request, 
he intended to ask for 10,000 planes and 
capacity for building 1 0,000 a year. When 
the Army's representatives interposed 
a plea for balance, Roosevelt replied 
that runways, barracks, and schools 
would not impress Hitler at all. He asked 
that the War Department prepare a pro- 
gram based on his expressed desires. The 
next day Johnson, apparently on his 
own authority — he was Acting Secre- 
tary at the time — directed General Craig 
to draw up three cost estimates: one for 
10,000 planes and seven aircraft factories 
plus the materiel, services, and installa- 
tions to support an expanded Air Corps; 
one for war reserves for the 1,000,000- 
man Army contemplated under the Pro- 
tective Mobilization Plan; and one for 
industrial preparedness. Arnold, whose 
job it was to determine the cost of ex- 
panding the Air Corps, prepared most 
of the estimates for construction. He did 
not consult Quartermaster General 
Gibbins, although Marshall had in- 
structed that this be done. Soon plans 
were taking shape for spending, over a 
2-year period, $1.3 billion for a balanced 
air force, $427 million for war reserves, 
and $122 million for industrial prepared- 
ness. 1 * 

11 (1) Rpt (n.d.) by Arnold on Conf at White 
House, 14 Nov 38. CofS Misc Gonfs, 1938-42. (2) 
Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 136-43. (3) Arnold, 
Global Mission, pp. 1 77-80. (4) Langer and Gleason, 
Challenge to Isolation, p. 38. (5) Maxwell Speech (Jan 
39). (6) WPD 3708-28A. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



77 



When Roosevelt learned what was 
happening, he summoned his advisers 
to a second meeting. He wanted planes, 
he told them, and they were trying to 
give him everything but planes. Besides, 
he said, he was not inclined to ask Con- 
gress for more than $500 million. Before 
the discussion ended, the President had 
nevertheless agreed to accept roughly 
one-quarter of the Army's program. He 
would call for a total of half a billion 
dollars: $200 million for nonair items, 
$180 million for planes, and $120 mil- 
lion for other air requirements. Of this 
last amount $62 million would be ear- 
marked for construction. 1 * 

The War Department was planning 
more construction than could possibly 
be had for such a sum. Panama, Alaska, 
Puerto Rico, the southeastern United 
States, and New England were each to 
have a big, new air base. Some forty 
existing Air Corps stations were slated for 
expansion. There was talk of four more 
bombing and gunnery ranges and at 
least two more air depots. Considerable 
work would be done on seacoast and 
antiaircraft defenses, and three new posts 
would be built in the Canal Zone to 
house an increase in the Coast Artillery 
garrison there. The list of proposed in- 
dustrial projects included the seven air- 
craft factories and important additions 
to the Frankford and Springfield Ar- 
senals, Aberdeen Proving Ground, the 
Signal Corps laboratory at Fort Mon- 
mouth, New Jersey, and the aeronautical 
laboratory at Wright Field, Ohio. How 
to build so much with so little money was 
a difficult problem indeed. General 
Arnold predicted that the Air Corps 
alone would require $194 million in 
construction funds before 30 June 1940. 



u ibid. 



And this estimate did not include the 
aircraft plants, which would cost in the 
neighborhood of $40 million. The plan- 
ners did their best to economize, pro- 
posing to build as little and as cheaply 
as possible. When the aircraft industry 
promised greatly to increase its capacity, 
they dropped the seven factories. Still, 
enough money was not in sight. Unless 
the President would ask for more, much 
work that the planners believed essential 
would have to be postponed. 14 

The Quest for Funds 

When Congress convened in January 
1939, Roosevelt proposed "a minimum 
program for the necessities of defense." 15 
The price was appropriately modest. 
The regular budget for fiscal year 1940, 
submitted to Congress on 5 January, 
contained $470 million in funds for the 
War Department plus $20.7 million in 
contract authorizations. This request, 
which was not much larger than the 
previous year's appropriations, provided 
almost nothing for expansion. Only 
$28.5 million was to go for construction, 
land, and maintenance. A week later, in 
a special message to Congress, the Presi- 
dent asked for $525 million for defense — 
$450 million for the Army, $65 million 
for the Navy, and $10 million for private 
schools which would train civilian pilots. 
The Army's share would be apportioned 
as follows: $300 million for the Air Corps; 
$110 million for critical items of equip- 
ment for the 400,000 men of the Initial 
Protective Force; $32 million for edu- 
cational orders; and $8 million for sea- 

w (0 Memo, Arnold for Craig, a8 Nov 38. WPD 
3807-28A. (2) Memo, Johnson for the President, 
28 Dec 38. (3) Memo, G-4 for TQMG, 20 Feb 39. 
Last two in G-4/31265 Sec 1. 

15 Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D, Roosevelt, 
1939, P- 73- 



78 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




USS Houston Southbound Through Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal 



were, from the War Department's stand- 
point, far from sufficient. 

Congress lost little time in taking up 
the President's proposals. On 1 7 January 
the Military Affairs Committees of both 
houses began hearings on his rearma- 
ment plans. Appearing that same day 
before both these groups, Secretary 
Woodring set forth the views of the War 
Department. Regardless of world con- 
ditions, he declared, the defenses of the 
United States must be modernized and 
strengthened. Of first importance were 
plans for the Panama Canal, "the key- 
point of our whole protective system." 



coast defenses in the United States, the 
Canal Zone, and Hawaii, and for a 
transisthmian highway in Panama. In 
addition to his big request, the President 
made another smaller one for $27 million 
to strengthen the Panama garrison. He 
recommended that $5 million of this 
amount be granted at once so that con- 
struction of housing could begin. 16 Al- 
though he stressed the need for an ade- 
quate defense, the sums he asked for 

16 (1) Ibid., pp. 36ff., 70-74. (a) H Subcomm of 
the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 1 st sess, Hearings on 
Military Establishment Appropriation Bill for ig^o, pp. 
4, aa6, 257-70, 497. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



79 



The Canal Zone must have more air- 
fields, more planes, and better seacoast 
and antiaircraft defenses. To protect the 
eastern approaches, an air base must 
be built in Puerto Rico. Although Alaska 
was of less strategic value, it was essen- 
tial that an airdrome be constructed 
there. "We must be ready," Woodring 
explained, "to guard northwestern Amer- 
ica against the establishment of hostile 
air bases." After commenting on the 
need for educational orders and war 
reserves, he took up the proposal for an 
expanded air force. The amount asked 
by the President would provide 3,000 
additional planes and make possible the 
organization of new squadrons for the 
United States and outlying possessions. 
It would also provide "personnel, ma- 
teriel, a portion of the bombs, and some 
of the bases and shelter construction 
necessary for the operation of an in- 
creased Air Corps." Regarding the pro- 
gram as a whole, Woodring said, "I 
consider . . [it] exceedingly mod- 
est, and I feel that its soundness can be 
sustained under the most searching ex- 
amination. That program has the whole- 
hearted support of the Army's staff, 
which has intensively studied the matter 
and has worked out the detailed plans 
involved." Pointedly, he added, "I do 
not mean that the officers concerned find 
included in the program all that they 
think necessary." 17 

Following Woodring to the stand, 
General Craig told the House committee, 
"Our most difficult problem has been 
to arrive at a satisfactory decision with 
reference to the construction program." 
Of the $62 million requested for Air 



Corps construction, he explained, nearly 
$23 million was set aside for projects in 
the Canal Zone. Another $4 million was 
for the Alaskan air base. The remainder 
would have to cover the jobs in the 
United States, Puerto Rico, and Hawaii. 
When his turn came to testify, General 
Arnold outlined a scheme for making 
the money go around. He meant to hold to 
a minimum the number of shops, hangars, 
and warehouses, dispense with concrete 
runways except in Alaska and the tropics, 
and provide officers quarters only where 
no accommodations could be had in 
nearby towns. He expected to save on 
housing for enlisted men. In the extreme, 
climates of Panama and Alaska, bar- 
racks had to be sturdy, but elsewhere he 
planned to erect cheap prefabricated 
structures. "In any event," Arnold as- 
sured the congressmen, "we feel that 
construction will not present a very 
difficult problem." The Quartermaster 
General appeared less sanguine. Asked 
what troubles he foresaw in carrying out 
his part of the program, General Gibbins 
replied, "I do not think we would have 
any difficulty with any of those problems, 
the problems of procurement, except 
for construction." 18 

As the bill to authorize the President's 
program moved toward passage, the 
War Department endeavored to secure 
additional building funds. Looking about 
for any available cash that might help 
get construction started, Colonel Max- 
well uncovered $4.5 million in unused 
work relief money, which he was able 
to obtain for expanding the Wright 
Field Laboratory and purchasing land. 
At the Congressional hearings several 



17 H Comm on Mil Affs, 76th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings, An Adequate National Defense as Outlined by the 
Message of the President of the United States, pp. 1-3. 



18 H Comm on Mil Affs, 76th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings, An Adequate National Defense , pp. 

5-6, 12-13, 23, 78. 



80 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



witnesses testified that an adequate de- 
fense would cost much, more than 
Roosevelt had seen fit to ask. But these 
indirect appeals to Congress for bigger 
appropriations were unsuccessful. Gen- 
eral Craig approached the Bureau of 
the Budget. On 16 March he put in a 
supplemental estimate for $122.5 million 
for construction. The Budget turned him 
down. The authorization act, approved 
on 3 April, sanctioned the program rec- 
ommended by the President but stipu- 
lated that the appropriations, which 
had yet to be made, not exceed the sums 
asked in January. 19 Chances of getting 
more money from Congress seemed 
practically nil. Maxwell's lucky find was 
not likely to be duplicated. There re- 
mained one last resort — the funds of the 
WPA. 

WPA had entered the picture early. 
At the time of the Munich Crisis, the 
President had sent Harry Hopkins to 
survey the West Coast aviation industry 
and explore the possibilities of expanding 
it. Hopkins returned with a plan for em- 
ploying WPA to build more aircraft fac- 
tories. 20 Meanwhile, Maj. Arthur R. 
Wilson, the War Department's liaison 
officer with WPA, had informed the 
General Staff that Hopkins believed 
"the Army and Navy are sitting pretty 
to get a lot of money in the next relief 
bill for the national defense if they can 



w ( 1 ) Memo, Johnson for the President, 1 4 Feb 
39. AG 600.12 IR (5-13-39). (a) Maxwell Inter v, 
15 Feb 57. (3) H Comm on Mil Affs, 76th Gong, 1st 
sess, Hearings, An Adequate National Defense . . . , 
pp. 4-8, 46, 73. (4) S Comm on Mil Affs, 76th Cong, 
1 st sess, Hearings on H R 3791 , pp. 34, 295-98. (5) Ltr, 
BOB to SW, 12 Apr 39. 6-4/30552-21. (6) 53 
Stat. 555. 

M ( 1 ) Robert E. Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, 
An Intimate History (New York: Harper & Brothers, 
1948), pp. 99-101. (2) Arnold, Global Mission, pp. 
171-72, 177-78. 



sell the idea to the President." 21 During 
October Hopkins and his assistants per- 
suaded Johnson, Arnold, and Marshall 
that WPA could be of help in the re- 
armament program. The idea appealed 
to the President. At the White House 
conference of 14 November, he an- 
nounced his intention of turning over to 
Hopkins the aircraft plant projects, the 
only construction he then contemplated. 
As the construction program grew, WPA 
funds assumed larger importance in the 
plans of Johnson and his group. While 
Hopkins was eager to participate, he 
naturally wished to do so on his own 
terms. He had long disliked the arrange- 
ment whereby WPA transferred money 
to other federal agencies, preferring to 
have relief work directed by his own 
organization. 22 Late in November word 
reached The Quartermaster General 
that WPA was preparing to superintend 
a part of the Army's construction pro- 
gram. 

The men responsible for military con- 
struction took a dim view of this develop- 
ment. General Gibbins pointed out that 
the Quartermaster Corps had "an ex- 
perienced and thoroughly competent 
organization." While offering to co- 
operate "with whatever agency may be 
directed to conduct this work," he ques- 
tioned the wisdom of entrusting high- 
speed projects to WPA. The Assistant 
Chief of Staff, G— 4, Brig. Gen. George 
P. Tyner, was more outspoken. Stating 
that he was "unable to compre- 
hend . . . how the WPA could 

21 Ltr, Wilson to WD. Quoted in Sherwood, 
Roosevelt and Hopkins, p. 100. 

m (t) Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 137-38. (2) Arthur 
W. MacMahon et al., The Administration of Federal 
Work Relief (Chicago: Social Science Research 
Council on Public Administration, 1941), pp. 134, 
329-3 - 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



81 



handle this job," he reminded General 
Marshall: "It is an accepted fact that 
the WPA is inefficient and uneconomical 
on construction projects." Since much 
of the work would be in thinly settled 
areas, Tyner failed to see how WPA 
could even man the jobs, much less com- 
plete them on time. 25 

Despite the conspicuous lack of en- 
thusiasm on the part of Tyner and 
Gibbins, pressure for using relief funds 
continued to grow. Disappointed in the 
President's request to Congress, Johnson 
and Arnold looked increasingly to WPA 
for a way out of their budgetary diffi- 
culties. On 1 8 January Arnold informed 
Craig that if adequate storage and main- 
tenance facilities were to be ready when 
planes began rolling off the assembly 
lines, $20 million was necessary at once 
for enlarging two air depots and building 
two new ones. As no appropriation had 
been asked for depots, Arnold urged 
that negotiations be started with WPA 
immediately. A few days later he added 
a third new depot, bringing to $28 mil- 
lion the sum required from the relief 
agency. Johnson was meanwhile seeking 
$3,750,000 in WPA money for Ordnance 
and Signal Corps projects. By late Janu- 
ary the estimated cost of the War De- 
partment's building program, exclusive 
of fortifications and posts for the Panama 
garrison, had risen to 893,750,000. 
Johnson now revealed his intention of 
allotting only $32 million of the big Air 
Corps appropriation to construction 
and of using this money as the sponsor's 
contribution toward work to be done 
by WPA. The bulk of defense construc- 
tion would thus go to the relief agency. 

M ( 1 ) Memo, Gibbins for Marshall, i Dec 38. 
6—4/31265 Sec i. (2) Memo, Tyner for Marshall, 16 
Jan 39. G-4/30552-4. 



General Tyner was taken aback. Col. 
Francis C. Harrington, an Engineer 
officer of 30 years' service, had recently 
succeeded Hopkins as WPA Adminis- 
trator. Tyner could not believe that 
Harrington approved of Johnson's 
scheme. He therefore proposed that 
the War Department and WPA get to- 
gether and work out a more practicable 
plan." 

The powwow took place on 25 Janu- 
ary. Among those present were Maj. 
Bartley M. Harloe, Harrington's prin- 
cipal assistant, Lt. Col. Paul W. Baade, 
chief of the Construction Section, G— 4, 
and Colonel Maxwell. Speaking for 
General Tyner, Baade attempted to 
show that Johnson's plan was unwork- 
able. Construction in Panama, Alaska, 
and Puerto Rico would cost at least 
$34.3 million, and there was no WPA 
in those territories. Some $7 million 
would be necessary to equip depots and 
other installations in the United States 
and Hawaii; yet WPA could buy no 
equipment with its funds. Moreover, 
the relief agency could spend only 
piddling sums for materials — a mere $7 
per man per month for common labor 
and even less for skilled. Colonel Maxwell 
interrupted Baade to disclose that the 
President had, in confidential reserve, 
$25 million that could be used for pur- 
chasing. Maxwell suggested that this 
fund, together with the sponsor's con- 
tribution and $25 million from WPA, 
would see the program through. Baade 
disagreed. Alluding to the high cost 
and slow progress of most WPA construc- 

M (i) Ltrs, Arnold to Craig, 18 Jan, 23 Jan 39. 
G-4/3 1 265 Sec 1.(2) Memo, Tyner for Craig, 26 Jan 
39. OCS 20808-1 5g. (3) Memo, Harrington for Hop- 
kins, 30 Nov 38. (4) Memo, ExecO G-4 for P & E 
Br G-4, 20 Jan 39. Last two in AG 580 (10-19-38) 
Bulky, Increase of the AC. 



82 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



tion, he questioned whether the work 
could be completed with the funds 
and in the time available. Furthermore, 
he argued, Panama, Alaska, and Puerto 
Rico had still to be provided for. Turning 
over military funds to WPA was, in his 
opinion, highly unwise if not illegal. 
Baade's objections were brushed aside. 
Maxwell and Harloe agreed to work 
out a plan which Harrington could lay 
before the President. 26 

The plan submitted to Harrington 
early in February 1939 was ill-contrived 
and tentative. Unable to find a way of 
handling the jobs in Panama, Puerto 
Rico, and Alaska through WPA, Max- 
well and Harloe made no provision for 
them; nor did they refer to a sponsor's 
contribution. In substance their proposal 
was that WPA do the construction in 
the continental United States and Ha- 
waii, using $25 million of its own money 
and the President's confidential reserve. 
But whether Roosevelt would release 
his funds they did not know. Two months 
went by and nothing happened. Mean- 
while, WPA had run short of money and 
the President had spent his reserve funds 
for unemployment relief. By late March 
little time remained. The House and 
Senate conferees had reached agreement 
on the authorization act, and the way 
would soon be open for introducing an 
appropriation bill. On 25 March 
Harrington proposed a solution. Leaving 
the Canal Zone, Puerto Rico, and 
Alaska to the Army, he recommended 
that WPA and the War Department 
each contribute $25 million toward the 
projects in the States and Hawaii, which 
local WPA administrators would build. 



" Memo, Baade for Red, 25 Jan 39, and related 
correspondence in Gr-4/31265 Sec 1. 



Johnson promptly sent this proposal to 
the White House. 26 

There was some question whether 
WPA would be in a position to under- 
take any of the Army's jobs, for the 
relief agency was in trouble with Con- 
gress. During the recent election, charges 
of improper political activity had been 
made against it. Conservatives of both 
parties, never friendly toward WPA, 
had been further antagonized. The in- 
tended victims of the President's at- 
tempted congressional purge were par- 
ticularly hostile. Roosevelt's request on 
5 January 1939 for $875 million to see 
WPA through to the end of the fiscal 
year had aroused determined opposition. 
The House slashed $150 million from 
the President's estimate and the Senate 
refused to restore the cut. The supple- 
mental appropriation, approved on 4 
February, carried a provision which, for 
the first time, prohibited WPA from 
competing with private manufacturers. 
On 2 7 March the House passed a resolu- 
tion to investigate WPA's activities. 27 
The Associated General Contractors had 
meanwhile renewed their pledge to 
"fight for the preservation of private 
industry in construction, the enlighten- 
ment of the public, and the retarding 
and ultimate dissolution of the Works 



28 ( 1 ) Draft of Memo for the President, prepared 
by Maxwell and Harloe, 28 Feb 39, and Incl. SW 
Secret Files, 591-701. (2) Memo, Harloe for Maxwell, 
27 Jan 39. (3) Ltr, Harrington to SW, 25 Mar 39. 
Last two in G-4/31265 Sec 1. (4) Memo, Johnson 
for the President, 29 Mar 39. SW Files, Constr Work 
1-250. 

" (1 ) MacMahon, Federal Work Relief, pp. 282ff. (2) 
Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 98, 104. (3) 
Donald S. Howard, The WPA and Federal Relief 
Policy (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 1943), 
pp. 116-17, 133, 576. (4) H Res 130, 76th Cong, 1st 
sess, 27 Mar 39. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



83 



Progress Administration." 29 Neither Con- 
gress nor the contractors seemed likely 
to accept a plan for putting large-scale 
military construction projects under 
WPA. 

Assistant Secretary Johnson faced a 
tough decision. At most, only $87 mil- 
lion was in prospect for emergency 
construction, and $25 million of that 
was WPA money, worth no more than 
fifty cents on the dollar in terms of fin- 
ished work. If the program were de- 
signed to fit these funds, few plant or 
depot projects could be included. On the 
other hand, if all the jobs were started, 
chances were that the money would 
run out before many of them reached 
completion. Johnson chose the bolder 
course. On 29 March he advised the 
President that, while $87 million would 
"initiate the main features of the pro- 
gram on a minimum basis, additional 
funds may be required." 29 In Woodring's 
absence, Johnson, as Acting Secretary, 
ordered affairs in the War Department 
to suit his purpose. For some days G— 4 
had been developing a construction 
program that could be accomplished for 
$62 million. Each project had received 
a priority. Installations in Panama were 
first on the list, followed, in order, by 
bases in Puerto Rico and Alaska and 
the more urgent jobs in the United 
States and Hawaii. Should funds be 
forthcoming from WPA, G-4 planned 
to use them for General Arnold's depots 
and additional buildings at the Wright 
Field laboratory. No provision had been 



18 Ltr, E. J. Harding, Managing Dir AGC, to Sen 
James F. Byrnes, 1 1 Mar 39. In S Sp Comm to 
Investigate Unemployment and Relief, 76th Cong, 
1st sess, Hearings on S 1265, p. 307. 

!> Memo, Johnson for the President, 29 Mar 39. 
SW Files Constr Work, 1-350. 



made for new Ordnance and Signal 
installations. On orders from Johnson, 
G-4 wiped out the priorities and revised 
the list to include all the projects. Still 
hoping that WPA would come through 
with more funds than Harrington had 
so far offered, Johnson insisted that 
Congress be asked to vote the $62 mil- 
lion as a lump sum which could be used 
for any or all projects on the revised 
list. How this appropriation would be 
spent would be decided later, after WPA 
received its money for the new fiscal 
year. 30 

Johnson's decision stirred up protests. 
General Arnold stated his unalterable 
opposition to including items that had 
nothing to do with the Air Corps in the 
Air Expansion Program. General Tyner 
contended that industrial projects, 
though urgently required, "should not 
be constructed at the expense of much 
needed Air Corps items." 31 Several of- 
ficers pointed out that The Quarter- 
master General would not be able to 
make detailed plans "primarily for the 
reason that the money provided was in- 
sufficient for the construction involved." 32 
Learning that the War Department was 
proceeding "on the assumption" that 
it would be able to employ large amounts 
of relief money for emergency con- 
struction, several congressmen suggested 
that the assumption might turn out to 
be mistaken. 33 But it was futile to argue. 

30 (1) Memo, Tyner for Craig, 27 Mar 3g. (2) 
Memo, Johnson for Craig, 29 Mar 39. Both in 
G-4/31265 Sec 1. (3) Memo, OCAC for Red, 5 
Apr 39. AAF Central Files, 600. 1-600. 12H to 30 
Jan '39- 

31 Memo, Tyner for Craig, 27 Mar 39. 

"Notes of Conf in G—4, 4 Apr 39. G— 4/31265 
Sec 1. 

33 H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
1st sess, Hearings on Supplemental Military Appropriation 
Bill for 1940, pp. 24, 43-44- 



84 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Johnson had his way. The supplemental 
estimate submitted to Congress late in 
April requested a lump sum of $62 mil- 
lion for construction. 

Some construction money was be- 
coming available, though not much. 
On 26 April the President signed the 
regular military appropriation bill, which 
carried $25.5 million for construction, 
maintenance, and land at permanent 
posts and $2.7 million for Engineer work 
on fortifications. A week later he ap- 
proved a deficiency appropriation giving 
the Construction Division $800,000, most 
of it to repair damage done by the New 
England hurricane of 1938, and pro- 
viding $2 million for the erection of sea- 
coast defenses. Hearings on the big 
emergency appropriation bill did not 
begin until 16 May. 34 Uncertainty as to 
what emergency projects would be built 
and how they would be financed prom- 
ised to continue for some time. 

Questions of Responsibility 

Where responsibility for emergency 
construction would lie was an open 
question. So long as the volume of new 
construction remained small, the com- 
promise of 1920 endured. There was dis- 
satisfaction, to be sure. There were com- 
plaints that Quartermaster methods were 
too slow and Quartermaster organi- 
zation was too centralized. But there 
was no concerted effort to bring 
about a change. No sooner had expan- 
sion begun than moves were afoot to 
wrest responsibility from The Quarter- 
master General. Local commanders, in- 
tent on strengthening defenses as fast as 
possible, sought to do construction work 

34 (1) 53 Stat. 592. (2) 53 Stat. 626. (3) H Subcomm 
of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 1 st sess, Hearings 
on Supplemental Military Appropriation Bill for 1940. 



themselves without reference to Washing- 
ton. The Air Corps, displaying strong 
separatist tendencies, entered a bid for 
more authority in construction matters. 
Proponents of transferring construction 
to the Corps of Engineers felt the time 
had come to act. For the Construction 
Division, these threats were far graver 
than the one posed by WPA. Turning 
over part of the expansion program to 
the relief agency would be no more than 
a temporary expedient designed to 
stretch appropriations, but any shift of 
responsibility within the Army was likely 
to be permanent. 

Among the first to challenge the exist- 
ing order were the commanding generals 
of the Panama Canal and Hawaiian 
Departments. Normally, commanders of 
the overseas departments had little to do 
with the Construction Division. A 1929 
War Department order permitted them 
to choose locations, prepare layouts, and 
draw plans and specifications for most 
new structures within their commands. 
Construction was carried out by de- 
partment quartermasters under the com- 
manding generals rather than by Con- 
structing Quartermasters responsible to 
The Quartermaster General. Neverthe- 
less, department commanders came under 
the regulations which stated that all 
projects involving new construction or 
major alterations must have prior ap- 
proval of the Secretary of War and that 
The Quartermaster General would award 
construction contracts unless otherwise 
directed. The Secretary sometimes asked 
the Construction Division to plan large or 
unusual overseas projects. 35 During the 

36 (1) WD Ltr AG 620 (12-9-29) Misc Div (D) to 
CG's Panama Canal and Hawaiian Depts, 1 1 Dec 
29. WPD 1379-18 to 45. (2) Memo, Tyner for 
Marshall, 16 Jan 39. G-4/30552. (3) AR 3°-'435> 
28 Nov 33. (4) Bruner, Outline of Authorizations — 
Constr Contracts, p. 1 . EHD Files. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



85 




3,200-man Barracks Burning After Japanese Attack, Hicham Field, Hawaii, 
7 December 1941. 



latter half of 1938 Maj. Gen. David L. 
Stone, the commander in Panama, 
clashed with the division over designs 
for runways at Albrook Field, and Maj. 
Gen. Charles D. Herron, who com- 
manded in Hawaii, arguing in favor of 
a dispersed layout, opposed the divi- 
sion's plans for a 3,200-man barracks 
at Hickam Field. Protracted disagree- 
ments delayed the start of construction 
on these projects, both of which the 
Air Corps considered urgent. 53 

In order to restrain the commanders, 

" ( 1 ) QM 600.1 (Hickam Fid) II. (2) QM 600.92 
(Hickam Fid) 1935-40. (3) QM 611 (Albrook Fid) 
1938-40. (4) G-4/29980-6. 



General Arnold attempted to tighten 
his control over Air Corps construction 
in Panama and Hawaii. At the first sign 
of trouble with the Albrook job, he 
urged that the overseas departments 
turn design responsibility back to the 
War Department. A few months later, 
when General Herron tried to prevent 
the building of the 3,200-man barracks, 
Arnold broadened his demands. This 
time he recommended that all questions 
concerning both the construction and 
design of Air Corps stations overseas be 
decided jointly by him and Gibbins 
and that any disagreements between 
them be referred to the General Staff. 



86 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



"The adoption of such a policy," he 
wrote, "would parallel that now existing 
for Air Corps stations in the continental 
limits — a policy which has resulted in a 
smooth and very satisfactory develop- 
ment of Air Corps construction." 37 

While Colonel Hartman favored 
Arnold's plan, he wished to go still fur- 
ther. He proposed that responsibility 
for all construction, ground as well as 
air, be centered in Washington. Whether 
a change would be made was largely up 
to General Tyner, who viewed the 
existing arrangement with concern. 
Arnold and Hartman had little difficulty 
in persuading him to go along with them. 
On 1 8 February 1939 Tyner recom- 
mended recision of the 1929 order. Gen- 
eral Craig agreed. A new directive went 
to the department commanders on 25 
February. Henceforth, the War De- 
partment would pick sites and make 
layouts for all military projects in the 
Canal Zone and Hawaii, and although 
plans and specifications might still be 
prepared locally, they could not be used 
until Washington approved them. 3 * The 
advocates of centralized control ap- 
peared to have won a signal victory. 

So sharp a reversal of policy did not 
go unchallenged. Hartman soon had 
to defend the principle of centralized 
control. In a 12-page memorandum pre- 
pared for Tyner's signature, he dealt 
with the objections against centraliza- 

" (1 ) Ltr, Arnold to TAG, 1 1 Aug 38. AAF Central 
Files, 61 1 A to Jul 40. (2) 1st Ind, Arnold to TAG, on 
TWX, Herron to Arnold, 14 Nov 38. QM 600.1 
(Hickam Fid) II. 

38 (1) Draft of Ltr, TAG to CG's, Panama Canal 
and Hawaiian Depts, a Dec 38. G-4/31288. (2) 
Memo, Tyner for Marshall, 16 Jan 39. G— 4/30552. 

(3) Memo, Tyner for Craig, 18 Feb 39. G— 4/31288. 

(4) WD Ltr (2-18-39) Misc D to CG's, Panama 
Canal and Hawaiian Depts, 25 Feb 39. AG 600.12 
(2-18-39). 



tion. Some persons argued that cen- 
tralized design meant poor design. That, 
said Hartman, was untrue; he pointed 
to the many prizes and commendations 
won by supervising architect Leisenring 
and his staff. Some maintained that 
centralization resulted in the same type 
of housing everywhere. Hartman called 
attention to the Spanish-style quarters 
in Texas, the Provincial French in 
Louisiana, and the Colonial in Mary- 
land and Virginia. Some asserted that 
the Air Corps built for itself better quar- 
ters than the Quartermaster provided 
for the rest of the Army. Emphasizing 
that the air stations were comparatively 
new, while the great majority of ground 
posts had been built by local com- 
manders many years before, Hartman 
commented: "The fact that the con- 
struction of the Air Corps stations has 
been satisfactory is very gratifying, in- 
asmuch as the Office of The Quarter- 
master General is entirely responsible 
for that condition." Repeatedly the 
question had arisen why Constructing 
Quartermasters took their orders from 
Washington rather than from post and 
corps area commanders. The day was 
long past, Hartman said, when non- 
professionals could do construction. Now- 
adays a corps of specialists was required. 
Commanders could not themselves di- 
rect CQM's with any degree of com- 
petence, nor could they justify the ex- 
pense of maintaining separate technical 
staffs. Hartman warned that if authority 
were decentralized, construction would 
be back where it was in the spring of 
191 7. Having disposed of these objec- 
tions, he took the following stand: 

In light of the lessons of the past and the 
recognized civilian practice, . . . the 
need of a strong centralized organization is 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



87 



important, first, because a central organiza- 
tion can be more efficiently and economically 
managed and controlled, and second, [be- 
cause] responsibility can more readily and 
directly be placed .... The present 
plan of operation provides for much needed 
centralization of advisory and directing 
functions, a decentralization of necessary 
supervisory and executive duties, and the 
ability to expand to meet construction 
requirements of almost any character. Such 
a plan, past experience indicates, is essential 
to meet war time demands. 

He recommended continuation of the 
current policy. On 24 March General 
Tyner signed the memorandum and 
forwarded it to G— 3 and the War Plans 
Division (WPD) for concurrence. But 
those divisions did not concur. 39 They 
now had before them a proposal of 
another kind, one to give the airfield 
projects to the Corps of Engineers. 

Behind the scenes, a powerful trium- 
virate was seeking to effect a transfer. 
The Assistant Secretary sparked the 
movement to take construction from The 
Quartermaster General. In Johnson's 
eyes, the Quartermaster Corps was a 
clumsy, slow-moving outfit that seldom 
finished anything on time, while the 
Engineers were experienced technicians 
who did the work assigned them expedi- 
tiously and well. General Marshall, now 
a leading candidate to succeed Craig 
as Chief of Staff, also believed the En- 
gineers would do a better job. He held, 
moreover, that additional experience 
with peacetime construction would 
strengthen the Corps for its wartime 
mission of building in theaters of opera- 
tions. "All along," he wrote, "I favored 
the Engineer Corps to handle construc- 



Memo, Tyner for Craig, 24 Mar 39. AG a 1 1.99 
CQM (4-1-36). 



tion." 40 The President, too, was for 
making the change, though he gave 
Johnson to understand that there must 
be no fight in Congress. It was with 
this backing that Colonel Maxwell on 
28 March proposed that the Chief of 
Engineers be charged with building for 
the Air Corps. 1,1 

The National Defense Act offered a 
convenient loophole. As mentioned ear- 
lier, Congress had excepted fortifications 
when it assigned military construction 
to the Quartermaster Corps in 1 920. The 
same day that Maxwell made his pro- 
posal, General Tyner began investi- 
gating whether airfields could be con- 
sidered fortifications and as such turned 
over to the Engineers. The Judge Advo- 
cate General held that runways, han- 
gars, and other technical structures, as 
distinct from housing, could be so con- 
sidered. But because he doubted the 
legality of diverting funds appropriated 
for one branch to another, he advised 
Tyner to wait until Congress voted 
construction money directiy to the En- 
gineers. Taking issue with the Judge 
Advocate, the Budget Officer for the 
War Department saw no objection to 
shifting funds about. 42 Meanwhile, Gen- 
eral Marshall had talked the matter 
over with the Chief of Engineers, Maj. 
Gen. Julian L. Schley, who recalled: 
"I remember . . . Marshall as the 
strong advocate of having the Corps 
build the airfields. He discussed the 



40 Replies to Questionnaire, Marshall to authors, 
received 23 Apr 56. 

41 (1) Johnson Interv, 9 May 56. (2) Memo, 
Maxwell for Marshall, 28 Feb 39. (3) Memo, Maxwell 
for ACofS WPD, a8 Mar 39. Last two in Maxwell's 
Papers. 

"(1) Memo, Tyner for JAG, 30 Mar 39. (2) 
Memos, JAG for Tyner, 3 Apr 39, and BOWD for 
Tyner, 10 Apr 39. All in G— 4/31324. 



88 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




General Schley 



subject with me several times and I ex- 
pressed my interest in the successful trans- 
fer of this work." Aware of the political 
dangers involved, Marshall told the 
Engineers to stay in the background. 
The Corps, he said, must take no active 
part but must leave negotiations en- 
tirely in his hands. 43 

As much as he desired to see con- 
struction transferred, General Schley 
wished to avoid spreading his Corps too 
thin. He was concerned primarily with 
developing able military engineers who 
could serve, along with Infantry and 
Artillery, as members of the combat 
team and carry out major construction 
in theaters of war. In early 1939 there 
were approximately 775 active Engineer 
officers. Three-quarters of them were on 
duty with the Corps, engaged in map- 
ping, supply, research and development, 



a Incl with Ltr, Schley to EHD, 5 Sep 53. 



troop training, and construction of river, 
harbor, and fortification works. The 
remainder were detailed to other organi- 
zations. Already, the Engineers had a 
number of jobs to fill that had little re- 
lation to military engineering, and Schley 
was wary of taking on more. 44 While 
he welcomed the opportunity of doing 
the Army's construction, he feared that 
his "officer personnel . . . would 
be wasted if burdened also with the 
troublesome job of maintenance." 45 

Schley viewed the problem from still 
another angle. The Engineers, he felt, 
must not stress building work so much 
that they lost sight of combat. A civil 
works program costing in excess of $275 
million was in prospect for fiscal year 
1 940. 46 On 10 April Schley indicated to 
Tyner his willingness to undertake a 
small part of the Air Corps program. 
He understood, he said, that the task 
proposed for the Engineers was to build 
the technical features of five new air 
bases. In agreeing to accept this job, he 
was making certain assumptions: main- 
tenance would be left to the Quarter- 
master Corps; the airfield projects would 
be assigned to the districts and divisions 
of the Engineer Department, which 
handled civil works and fortifications; 
and the Engineers would be free to carry 
out construction "in such manner as 
may be most expeditious and economical 
and to the best interests of the Govern- 
ment." Schley reminded Tyner that 
use of WPA funds would be inefficient 



Ibid, (a) Annual Report Covering Military- 
Activities of the Corps of Engineers for the Fiscal Year 
Ending June 30, 1939, pp. 1-3. 

" Ltr, Schley to EHD, 19 Feb 57. 

46 ( 1 ) Interv with Maj Gen Julian L. Schley, 26 
Oct 55. (a) Incl, Appns for Mil and Civil Functions 
CE, with Memo, Chief Budget and Programs Div 
OCE for Chief EHD, 6 Jan 55. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



89 



and might delay completion. As for 
"the larger question of the future re- 
sponsibility of the Corps of Engineers 
for construction and maintenance of 
Air Corps technical features," Schley 
asked that this be settled later. 47 

Tyner decided to let well enough 
alone. On 15 April, he told Craig why 
he believed the proposed change should 
not be made. There were, he knew, sound 
arguments in favor of a transfer. The 
Quartermaster General had too many 
duties, and the Engineers would un- 
doubtedly turn in a fine performance. 
Tyner for many years had felt that con- 
struction belonged with the Engineers. 
But to detach a part of the program — 
either the runways and hangars at five 
fields, as discussed by Schley, or all Air 
Corps technical structures, as actually 
proposed — seemed to him unwise. Every 
post affected by the move would have 
two construction offices buying land, 
making layouts, and competing with one 
another for labor and supplies. The job 
of administering building funds would 
be much more difficult. And what of the 
Construction Division, which would still 
be charged with the bulk of the work? 
Surely, its morale would suffer. For the 
present, Tyner held, things ought to 
stay the way they were. Perhaps later 
the Defense Act could be amended to 
transfer all construction to the En- 
gineers. He concluded with the following 
reminder: 

A contributing factor in raising the basic 
question at this time is the fact that consider- 
able apprehension exists within the War 
Department General Staff as to the qualifi- 
cations and capabilities of the head of the 
Construction Division [General Sea- 
man] . ., to carry to successful comple- 

47 Memo, Schley for Tyner, 10 Apr 39. 0-4/31334. 



tion the huge construction program now 
underway and in immediate prospect. In 
this apprehension I frankly share. It is de- 
sired, however, to point out that this is a 
personnel problem which should be solved 
on its own merits .... Certainly, 
the War Department should not . . . 
endeavor to correct a faulty personnel situ- 
ation by making a hasty change in basic 
organization. 48 

Under its system of concurrences, the 
General Staff made no changes in policy 
until all interested branches had ap- 
proved. Hence, Tyner's opposition 
stopped the move to classify airfields 
as fortifications. 

By this time a way was open to trans- 
fer all construction to the Engineers 
without amending the Defense Act. On 
3 April Congress had passed the Re- 
organization Act of 1939, authorizing 
the President to overhaul the adminis- 
trative machinery of the government 
by regrouping agencies and transferring 
functions. Soon afterward, Roosevelt 
asked Woodring what changes ought 
to be made within the War Department. 
By mid-April the General Staff was con- 
sidering whether to recommend that 
Quartermaster construction work go to 
the Engineers. 49 General Tyner favored 
such action. He argued that construction 
was a branch of engineering and should 
be handled by engineers rather than by 
specialists in supply. Schley had the 
right men for the job, the cream of the 
crop from West Point and many gradu- 
ates of the finest civilian engineering 
schools. The transfer would be beneficial 
all the way around. The Engineers 



15 Memo, Tyner for Craig, 15 Apr 3g. G-4/31324. 
See also Tyner Interv, 28 Sep 55. 

" (r) 53 Stat. 56 r. (2) Ltr, BOB to SW, 14 Apr 39. 
(3) Memo, SGS for Tyner, 17 Apr 39. Last two in 
G-4/31343. 



90 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



would gain additional experience. The 
Quartermaster General would be shed 
of an onerous responsibility unrelated 
to supply. The War Department would 
have a single construction agency, one 
capable of attaining "a standard of 
efficiency not possible under the present 
set-up." Having concluded that main- 
tenance and the group that oversaw it 
would have to remain with the Quarter- 
master Corps — a combat arm must not 
be burdened with "unnecessary and un- 
desirable housekeeping duties," he said — 
Tyner proposed to move the other 
branches of the Construction Division 
to the Office of the Chief of Engineers. 
No abrupt change would be made in 
operating methods and personnel. Only 
gradually would the former Quarter- 
master organization be fitted into the 
Engineer scheme of things. 50 

Although generally well received, 
Tyner' s plan foundered. The Assistant 
Chiefs of Staff, G-i and WPD, endorsed 
the plan, Craig seemed willing to go 
along, and Schley raised no objections. 51 
But the G-3, Maj. Gen. Robert M. 
Beck, would have none of it. On qq 
April, in a memorandum of noncon- 
currence, he explained his position: 

Primarily it is believed that the present is 
a very inopportune time to make any such 
radical change in organization as is indicated. 
It should also be borne in mind that although 
the Corps of Engineers is charged with con- 
struction duties in the theater of operations, 
the character of this construction is of an 



50 Memo, Tyner for Craig, 2 1 Apr 39. G-4/3 1 343. 
See also Tyner Interv, 28 Sep 55. 

51 (1) Memo, Tyner for Craig, 21 Apr 39, and 
concurrences thereon, (a) Note, Marshall to Craig 
(n.d.), and Craig's penciled comments thereon. 
G-4/3 1 324. 



entirely different nature than is the perma- 
nent construction carried on at our various 
posts and stations during peacetime. It is 
doubted that the training obtained by the 
Corps of Engineers . would be of 

particular value during a period of national 
emergency. 

As a matter of fact, Beck feared that 
giving the Engineers additional con- 
struction might impair their readiness 
for combat. Furthermore, he opposed 
splitting maintenance and construction. ss 
Since the General Staff would not act 
without G—3's approval, Tyner's plan 
was shelved. Perturbed by what he re- 
garded as the Staff's inertia, Johnson 
forwarded papers to the White House, 
recommending the transfer. Learning 
of this, Secretary Woodring recalled 
the papers for reconsideration and 
pigeonholed them. Roosevelt's first re- 
organization plan, presented to Congress 
on 25 April, made no mention of mili- 
tary construction. 53 

The Air Corps was the next to chal- 
lenge the Construction Division. Late 
in April Arnold's office ordered com- 
manding officers at air stations to draw 
layouts for the new housing proposed 
under the Expansion Program. Colonel 
Hartman soon learned of this develop- 
ment, for Constructing Quartermasters 
promptly sent him copies of the order, 
and local air commanders, faced with 
an unfamiliar task, appealed to him for 
help. Hartman lost no time in reminding 
Arnold that responsibility for layouts 
rested with The Quartermaster Gen- 



52 Memo, Beck for Tyner, 22 Apr 39. AG 020 

(4-21-39). 

83 (1) Johnson Interv, 9 May 56. (2) Statement of 
Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 14. (3) Public Papers and 
Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, ig^9> PP- a 45 nC - 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



91 



eral." Arnold was conciliatory. Knowing 
commanders would shortly want to com- 
ment on layouts prepared by the Quar- 
termaster Corps, he had sought to 
familiarize them with the problem be- 
forehand. "The Chief of the Air Corps 
is greatly concerned over the construc- 
tion phase of the program, since its 
completion on time is vital . . .," 
he wrote to Hartman on 6 May, "and 
this was one of his efforts to make sure 
that no Air Corps officer or agency 
causes or is responsible for any delay 
whatever." 56 Arnold failed to mention 
another step he had taken to expedite 
construction. Sometime around the first 
of May, he and Marshall had visited the 
Pacific coast, where they had discussed 
construction matters with Col. John C. 
H. Lee, the highly regarded division 
engineer at Portland. At Arnold's re- 
quest, Lee had agreed to investigate the 
airfield program and report "what ac- 
tion, if any, seemed necessary to assure 
completion in two years." 56 

Even before he took off on 9 May for 
a flying tour of airfield projects, Lee 
thought he knew what ailed the build- 
ing program. According to his diagnosis, 
construction suffered from "excessive 
centralization ... in The Quar- 
termaster General's office, where it was 



« 4 (i) Ltr, Hq 3d Wing GHQ Air Force to CO 
Barksdale Fid, La., 21 Apr 39. (2) Ltr, CQM 
Barksdale Fid to TQMG, 22 Apr 39. Both in QM 
600.1 (Barksdale Fid) 1939. (3) TWX, CO Mitchel 
Fid, N.Y., to TQMG, 27 Apr 39. QM 600.1 (Mitchel 
Fid) (AC Program) 1939-40. (4) Ltr, Hartman to 
Arnold, 28 Apr 39. Last two in QM 600.1 (Mitchel 
Fid). 

** 1st Ind, 6 May 39, on Ltr, Hartman to Arnold, 
28 Apr 39. 

*• Memo, Lee for ACofS WPD, 8 Jun 39, WPD 
3809-24. 



a secondary matter." 67 As Lee sped from 
place to place, inspecting ten jobs in 
thirteen days, he found much to con- 
firm his view. Almost every project fur- 
nished him with an example of un- 
satisfactory progress or faulty design 
which might be laid to centralized con- 
trol. He was shocked to learn that The 
Quartermaster General had let con- 
tractors set their own completion dates. 
Although a few Constructing Quarter- 
masters impressed him favorably, he 
rated most of them as mediocre or worse. 
All of them appeared to be handicapped 
by the necessity of referring so many 
decisions to Washington. Reporting to 
Arnold on 23 May, Lee recommended 
immediate decentralization. On the 25th 
he discussed his findings with Gibbins, 
Seaman, and Hartman, who advised 
him that they considered "the present 
centralized system of design and control 
to be not only satisfactory but the best 
method . . . for the Army." 58 That 
same day Arnold wrote to Craig, en- 
closing Lee's report and urging that 
Gibbins be ordered to decentralize. 59 

On reading Arnold's memorandum, 
General Tyner was much put out. Not 
one of the projects Lee had seen was in 
any way connected with the Expansion 
Program. All had been started in 1938 
with WPA funds. That, said Tyner, ex- 
plained why they were slow. Since none 
of the work was urgent and construction 
budgets were small, contractors had 
been permitted to fix the deadlines 
themselves. An Engineer, the G-4 in- 
timated, ought to know that speed costs 

" Interv with Lt Gen John C. H. Lee, 25 Apr 57. 
s » Memo, Lee for Strong, 8 Jun 39. WPD 3809-34. 
M Memo, Arnold for Craig, 25 May 39. G-4/32165 
Sec 1. 



92 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



money. Dismissing Lee's report as un- 
fair and irrelevant, he undertook to set 
Arnold straight. Decentralization was 
bound to create trouble. If Gibbins gave 
authority to the field, Constructing Quar- 
termasters would have to bow to the 
wishes of higher ranking Air Corps and 
corps area officers. All sorts of innovations 
would be tried. Engineering standards 
would go out the window. There would 
be confusion and delay. After repeating 
the argument that most big civilian con- 
struction firms used the same system as 
the Quartermaster Corps, Tyner referred 
to his predecessor, Brig. Gen. George 
R. Spalding. An Engineer officer, 
Spalding had come into G-4 an advocate 
of decentralization and had left be- 
lieving firmly "that the organization 
of the War Department for construc- 
tion was fundamentally sound and should 
not be changed." Arnold had indicated 
that he would refuse to delegate his 
responsibility for Air Corps construc- 
tion unless his demands were met. This 
attitude nettled Tyner, who declared: 
"The Chief of the Air Corps at the pres- 
ent time has no responsibility so far as 
construction is concerned other than 
making known his requirements and the 
necessity therefor." 60 

Meanwhile, on 26 May, Arnold and 
Lee had left for the Caribbean with 
Brig. Gen. George V. Strong, Assistant 
Chief of Staff, WPD. In Panama they 
conferred with General Stone, who ex- 
pressed dissatisfaction with the Quarter- 
master setup. He asked that he be given 
entire responsibility for construction in 
the Canal Zone and that the department 
engineer superintend the work. Moving 

,0 Incl, 29 May 39, with Memo, Tyner for SGS, 1 
Jun 39. G-4/31265 Sec 1. 



on to the West Indies, Arnold and his 
companions found the commander of 
the new Puerto Rican Department think- 
ing along the same lines as Stone. Every- 
where they went the three officers heard 
complaints against the Quartermaster 
system. At one point during the trip, 
General Strong asked Lee what steps 
were necessary to meet present and 
future construction requirements. By 
the time they returned to Washington 
early in June, Lee was ready with an 
answer. 

On 8 June, in a lengthy memorandum, 
he suggested drastic changes in the 
Army's construction organization. To in- 
sure timely completion of the Air Ex- 
pansion Program, Gibbins should de- 
centralize at once. Colonel Hartman 
should give way to "a carefully selected 
military engineer, accustomed to de- 
centralized control and to getting work 
properly completed on time." The field 
should take over planning and design. 
"Competent military engineers," who 
would co-operate fully with corps area 
and department commanders, should 
replace unsatisfactory Constructing 
Quartermasters. If Gibbins did not have 
enough qualified officers, district and 
department engineers should take over 
part of the program. Lee looked forward 
to the time when his own Corps would 
do all military construction. "For the 
eventual assurance of Army construc- 
tion efficiency with probable ability to 
meet any future emergency," he wrote, 
"all such work should, in my opinion, 
be transferred after a reasonable transi- 
tion period and be placed under the 
supervision of [the] Chief of Engineers." 61 



Memo, Lee for Strong, 8 Jun 39. WPD 3809-24. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



93 



The question remained open, as Lee's 
memo gathered dust. For the present, 
Hartman had his way. With Tyner's 
help, he even succeeded in tightening 
control over operations in the field. 
General Craig took responsibility for 
drawing plans and specifications away 
from the department commanders and 
gave it to The Quartermaster General. 
He also sent Constructing Quartermas- 
ters to Puerto Rico and Alaska with 
instructions to report directly to 
Gibbins. 82 But, although centralization 
was stronger than before, the Construc- 
tion Division's future remained in doubt. 
Toward the end of June, in his final 
report to the Secretary of War, General 
Craig observed: "The Quartermaster 
Corps, now charged with construction, 
has a task of first magnitude to perform 
in the supply and maintenance of 
troops .... I believe the Corps of 
Engineers should be utilized to relieve 
that Corps of the additional responsi- 
bility for new construction." 63 When 
General Marshall succeeded Craig in 
September 1939, some read the hand- 
writing on the wall. Col. Edmund B. 
Gregory, soon to become The Quarter- 
master General, believed a transfer was 
now inevitable. Years later he disclosed: 
"I knew it was foreordained . . . , 



41 (1) Memo, Tyner for Craig, 24 Jun 39. G-4/ 
31288. (2) WD Ltr AG 600.12 (6-24-39) (Misc) D 
to CG's, Panama Canal and Hawaiian Depts, 30 
Jun 39. QM 600.1 (Panama) (AC Expansion) I. (3) 
Ltr, Seaman to Lt Col R. W. Riefkohl, 27 May 39. 
QM 600.1 (Borinquen Fid) 1939-40. (4) Ltr, Seaman 
to CQM Ogden OD, Ogden, Utah, 27 May 39. 
QM 600.1 (Ladd Fid) II. 

63 Report of the Secretary of War to the President, 1939, 
P- 32- 




General Gregory 



the thing was all settled when General 
Marshall became Chief of Staff." 64 

Quartermaster Plans and Preparations 

In an atmosphere of uncertainty, the 
Construction Division prepared to build. 
Lights burned late in the Munitions 
Building as Colonel Hartman pressed 
to get the program started. He had no 
time to lose. Under a recent amend- 
ment to the Manchu Law, no officer 
below the rank of general could remain 
in Washington longer than 5 years at 
a stretch. In August Hartman's tour 
would end. How would the work go 
then? Having almost completed the $80 



64 Verbatim Rpt of Mtg, Maj Gen Edmund B. 
Gregory, Maj Gen Kester L. Hastings, the authors, 
el at., 2g Jun 55, p. 31. EHD Files. Cited hereinafter 
as Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings. 



94 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



million PWA-WPA program begun in 
1938, the Construction Division seemed 
ready for larger, more difficult tasks. The 
branch chiefs were experienced men. 
Colonel Pitz headed New Construction 
and Major Nurse, Planning. Lt. Col. 
Rigby D. Valliant, a 1902 West Point 
graduate, was in his second term as chief 
of Real Estate. In charge of Repairs and 
Utilities was Maj. Will R. White, a 
civil engineer who had joined the Can- 
tonment Division in 191 7. With 12 of- 
ficers and some 1,300 civilians in the 
central office and 1 08 officers in the field, 
the organization appeared to be ade- 
quate. Since returning to the Construc- 
tion Division in the summer of 1938, 
Hartman had pushed preparations for 
emergency work with every means at 
his command, and, despite Seaman's 
reluctance to co-operate, progress had 
been good. But there was, Hartman 
realized, another side to the coin. The 
arrangement whereby he ran the division 
while Seaman continued as titular head 
had made for divided loyalties. Opinions 
differed sharply on such basic matters 
as mobilization planning, structural de- 
signs, and contracting methods. Under 
the circumstances, Hartman wanted 
plans completed, policies agreed to, and 
at least some projects under way before 
he left town. 65 

In the absence of a well-defined con- 
struction program, planning went slowly. 
Johnson's decision to wait for WPA 
money placed the Quartermaster Corps 
in a tight spot. Hartman knew in general 
what would be built in Panama, Puerto 
Rico, and Alaska and roughly how much 
money would be spent there, but that was 
all. Parts of the program submitted to 



Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. 2, 5. 



Congress were so vague that one repre- 
sentative asked, "Why, in the name of 
heaven, should we hold hearings on a 
thing like that?" 66 Tyner tried repeatedly 
to force a decision as to which projects 
would be built with the $62 million re- 
quested from Congress. 67 But Johnson 
insisted on waiting. Meanwhile, he de- 
manded that plans be developed for all 
the proposed projects with a view to 
using a maximum of WPA money and 
a minimum of military funds. "Until 
this is done," he held, "it is premature 
to determine that any of the items can- 
not be undertaken." 68 What Johnson 
asked appeared to be impossible. Major 
Nurse had no way of knowing what 
limitations Congress would place on the 
future expenditure of WPA funds or how 
many relief workers would be available 
in various localities some months hence. 
Moreover, even with $25 million in 
WPA money — possibly even with $50 
million — funds would still be insufficient 
for all the projects Johnson wanted. The 
situation did not improve until early 
June, when Tyner issued an unofficial 
directive, telling the Quartermaster to 
push ahead with plans for the overseas 
projects, the three air depots, and ad- 
ditions to a number of Air Corps sta- 
tions. 64 

Until sites were chosen, planning could 
not begin. For many years boards of 
officers appointed, in some cases, by 

,e H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
1st sess, Hearings on Supplemental Military Appropriation 
Bill for Jff-fo, p. 42. 

" (1) Memo, Tyner for G-i, 17 May 39, G- 
4/31265-2. (2) Memos, Tyner for Craig, 13, 24 May 
39. G-4/31265 Sec 1. 

68 Memo, Johnson for Craig, 1 5 May 39. G— 4/ 
31265 Sec 1. 

(1 ) Memo, with Incl, Tyner for SGS, 29 May 39. 
G-4/31265 Sec 1. (2) WD Ltr AG 600.12 (5-25-39) 
Misc D to TQMG, 3 Jun 39. QM 600.1 (Misc 1939). 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



95 



the War Department and, in others, 
by corps area or department comman- 
ders, had selected locations for new in- 
stallations. The General Staff and, when 
appropriate, the using service, reviewed 
the boards' recommendations. Final de- 
cision rested with the Secretary of War. 
For some months, site boards had been 
out seeking locations for the bases and 
depots the Air Corps wished to build. 
These boards, most of whose members 
Arnold named, were composed chiefly 
of airmen with a sprinkling of General 
Staff and Engineer officers. Often there 
was no Quartermaster representative. 
Despite an early start, progress was poor. 
Survey teams visited many sites, but be- 
cause none was ideal, the Air Corps had 
difficulty choosing among them.™ Asked 
what progress the boards were making, 
General Arnold said on 17 May, "Never 
in the history of the Air Corps has the 
War Department gone to such lengths 
in the consideration of all requirements 
before deciding upon . . loca- 
tions." 71 Quartermaster officers were in- 
clined to question this statement, for 
several of the sites favored by the Air 
Corps left much to be desired from a 
builder's point of view. 72 

While the site boards deliberated, 
Quartermaster planners centered their 



Wesley F. Craven and James L. Catc, eds., 
The Army Air Forces in World War II, vol. VI, Men 
and Planes (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 
1955), pp. 137-28. (2) WPD 3809-24 (Landing Fids). 
(3) Memo, Tyner for TAG, 25 May 39. G— 4/31265 
Sec 1. (4) Memo, Seaman for Tyner, 18 May 3g. 
QM 600.1 (Misc) (1939)- 

71 H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
1st sess, Hearings on Supplemental Military Appropriation 
Bill for 1940, p. 45. 

'* ( 1 ) Intervs with Gen Seaman, 2 1 Jul 55, 2 Oct 
57. (2) Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings. (3) Incl with Ltr, Col Elmer G. Thomas 
to EHD, 31 May 56. 



attention on existing posts. Construction 
estimated to cost some $34 million was in 
prospect at Air Corps establishments 
in the continental United States, Panama, 
and Hawaii. Among the items to be 
provided were barracks and quarters, 
shops and warehouses, storage for gaso- 
line and oil, runways, aprons, hard- 
stands, hangars, laboratories, offices, hos- 
pitals, and schools. Late in April Colonel 
Hartman began submitting layouts for 
various stations to Arnold for approval. 
Among the structures shown on these 
layouts was a two-story mobilization- 
type barracks with inside plumbing and 
hot air heat. Several weeks went by and 
not one of the layouts had received ap- 
proval. The reason was soon apparent — 
Arnold would accept no plan calling for 
mobilization-type barracks. 73 

Since January he had been telling con- 
gressional committees that temporary 
shelter could be provided cheaply. Be- 
fore the House Appropriations Com- 
mittee on 1 7 May, he testified : 

Mr. Engel. What will the temporary 
quarters cost? 

General Arnold. One hundred and fifty 
dollars per man. 

Mr. Engel. Those will have to be replaced 
ultimately. 

General Arnold. The ones we are living 
in now in the Air Corps at certain stations 
have been there since the World War, for 
21 years. 

Mr. Engel. You have gotten your money's 
worth out of them. 



73 ( 1 ) H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on Supplemental Military 
Appropriation Bill for 1940, pp. 1 14-49. ( 2 ) Ltr, Seaman 
to Arnold, 25 Apr 39. QM 606.1 (Mitchcl Fid) (AC 
Program) 1939-40. (3) Ltr, Hartman to Arnold, ag 
A Pr 39. QM 600.1 (Barksdale Fid) VI. (4) Ltr, 
Hartman to Arnold, 9 May 39 with 1st Ind, 1 1 May 
39, and 2d Ind, 18 May 39. QM 600.1 (AC) 
IQ 37-39- (5) Memo, Tyner for G-i, 17 May 39. 
G-4/31265-2. 



96 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



General Arnold. We have had our money's 
worth out of them; yes sir. 74 

The reference to World War housing 
was misleading, for housing of that type 
could not be had at Arnold's price. The 
average cost of the old cantonments had 
been $2 15 per man. It was true, of course, 
that most of them had been built on 
virgin tracts. But it was also true that 
hourly wages in the building trades had 
more than doubled in the intervening 
years. 75 Moreover, the structures Arnold 
had in mind bore little resemblance to 
World War barracks. 

The Air Corps' answer to the housing 
problem was the portable building or 
prefab. At CCC camps throughout the 
country, portables had been erected at 
a cost of $1 60 per man. Much of (he work 
had been done by the men themselves. 
Confronted, on the one hand, with an 
increase of 26,000 men in the Air Corps 
and, on the other, with a slim construc- 
tion budget, Arnold had decided to have 
barracks prefabricated and to let troops 
put them up. The plan was visionary, 
to say the least. Shelter provided at 
CCC camps did not meet the Army's 
heating and space requirements. The 
building trades unions, stronger now 
than in the early years of the New Deal, 
were certain to protest. Moreover, prices 
of materials were on the rise. 76 Told that 



74 H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on Supplemental Military 
Appropriation Bill for 1940, p. 46. 

76 (1) Incl with Ltr, R. C. Marshall to OCMH, 
30 Mar 55. EHD Files. (2) U.S. Departments of 
Commerce and Labor, Construction Volume and Costs, 
1915-1954, A Statistical Supplement to Volume I of 
Construction Review (Washington, 1955), Table 9, p. 
27. 

'•(0 Ltr, Arnold to TQMG, 2r Jun 39. QM 
600.1 (AC) 1937-39. ( 2 ) Memo, Seaman for Tyner, 
33 Jun 39. G—4/31265 Sec 1. (3) Memo, Pitz for 
G— 4 Red, 28 Jun 39. G—4/31265 Bulky. 



he would have to provide prefabricated 
housing at $150 per man, Colonel 
Hartman exclaimed, "It is an impossible 
task. . . You will spend more 
than that on utilities outside the build- 
ing." The Air Corps had an answer to 
that: use utilities that were already there; 
in other words, put prefabs in among 
permanent buildings. Hartman refused 
to consider the idea. He told a member 
of Arnold's staff, "If the plan of the 
Chief of the Air Corps is carried 
out, ... a fire hazard will be 
created that will endanger millions of 
dollars worth of construction." 77 Despite 
Hartman's contention that mobilization- 
type buildings offered superior accom- 
modations at a lower price, Arnold con- 
tinued to hold out for prefabs. General 
Tyner made Hartman's position more 
difficult by siding with the Air Corps on 
this issue. 78 

Asked repeatedly by Johnson and 
Arnold when certain projects would be 
completed, General Seaman declared, 
"The immediate and pressing question is 
when they can be started." 19 Once site 
choices were firm and full topographic 
and subsurface data were available, it 
might take a month or more to make 
layouts for the new bases. Then would 
come the task of drawing detailed plans 
and specifications. How fast this work 
would go was a question. Major Nurse's 
staff of engineers and draftsmen was too 
small to cope with any considerable 
number of crash projects; yet the long- 
awaited formal directive was now cer- 



77 Notes of Conf, Baade, Hartman, Spaatz, et al., 
20 Jun 39. G—4/31265 Bulky. 

78 (1) Memo, Seaman for Tyner, 25 Jun 39. QM 
600.1 (Misc) 1939. (2) Notes of Conf, Arnold, Tyner, 
Pitz, et al., 28 Jun 3g. G—4/31265 Bulky. 

7 * Memo, Seaman for Tyner, 1 8 May 39. QM 
600. 1 (Misc) 1939. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



97 



tain to come as a rush order. Moreover, 
a single change might upset a good deal 
of careful planning, and, according to 
Hartman, "No branch of the War De- 
partment was so changeable as the Air 
Corps." 80 After Nurse had finished, more 
time would go into advertising for bids 
and awarding lump-sum contracts. 

Drawing on his wartime experience 
Colonel Hartman devised a plan for 
getting around some of these obstacles. 
In May 1939 he moved to revive the 
wartime contract. "I started early," he 
wrote, "to get the necessary legislation 
to handle construction on a cost-plus- 
a-fixed-fee basis." 81 As one who had 
served with the Construction Division 
of the Army, he knew firsthand the 
advantages of the fixed-fee agreement; 
and he was also familiar with the criti- 
cisms raised against it. Obtaining au- 
thority to use the contract might not 
be easy. The competitive system of 
awarding government contracts was by 
now very nearly sacrosanct. Many in 
the War Department disliked cost- 
plus contracting in any form. Others 
feared it. Still others preferred the evalu- 
ated-fee agreement for emergency use. 
In his efforts to overcome this opposition, 
Hartman had help from General Tyner 
and Rear Adm. Ben Moreell of the Navy's 
Bureau of Yards and Docks. On 25 April 
Moreell got authority from Congress to 
negotiate fixed-fee contracts for con- 
struction outside the United States and 
to employ architectural and engineering 
firms without reference to the law re- 
quiring competition. With Moreell's en- 
couragement, Hartman and Tyner 
incorporated the pertinent provisions 



84 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul S"5, P- 4- 
11 Ibid.. D. II. 



of the Navy's bill into one of their own. 
They next enlisted the support of the 
Chief of Staff and the Secretary of War. 
On 18 May Woodring sent the measure, 
with his endorsement, to Chairman 
Sheppard of the Senate Military Affairs 
Committee and to Speaker William B. 
Bankhead, who shortly introduced it in 
both houses. 82 The bill was introduced 
in the House on 23 May and in the 
Senate on 6 June. 

The construction industry was de- 
lighted with the bill. The quickening of 
military preparations was causing some 
concern in contracting circles. Costs 
were rising and risks increasing. Bidders 
were thinking in terms of larger con- 
tingency items. Construction men were 
fearful lest a sharp jump in contract 
prices slow the industry's progress to- 
ward recovery. 83 AGC officials believed 
the situation called for a change in con- 
tracting methods. Reporting to the as- 
sociation's members in the fall of 1939, 
Managing Director Edward J. Harding 
declared: 

A solution . . . will become clearer 
when owners understand that the general 
contractor performs two functions. He not 
only constructs the project, but he insures its 
completion for an agreed upon price. When 
insurance alone is purchased, the purchaser 
expects to pay an increased premium to 
cover increased hazards. So it should be in 
construction; the purchaser should either 
expect to pay [the] appropriate cost of the 
insurance for completion of the project, or 



85 (1) Tyner Interv, 28 Sep 55; Pagan Interv, 8 
Mar 57. (2) 53 Stat. 591. (3) Memo, Tyner for Craig, 
16 May 39. (4) Ltrs, Woodring to Sheppard and 
Bankhead, 18 May 39. (5) Memo, OGofS Budget 
and Legis Ping Br for Craig, 24 May 39. Last three 
entries in G— 4/31364. 

83 (1) Telg, Harding to Johnson, 8 Aug 39. QM 
600.1 (Ladd Fid) (AC Program) I. (a) The Con- 
structor, October 1939, p. 14. 



98 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



he should be his own insurer, and relieve the 
contractor of that burden. 84 

Here, then, was an argument for the 
fixed-fee contract, under which the pur- 
chaser was self-insured and the con- 
tractor assumed very little risk. Fixed- 
fee contracts imposed no penalty for 
delay and required no performance or 
payment bonds. Less hazardous than 
fixed-price agreements, they were also 
more easily financed, since reimburse- 
ments to the contractor did not need to 
lag much behind expenditures. Au- 
thorization of fixed-fee agreements for 
overseas projects might help point the 
way toward more liberal terms for do- 
mestic contracts also. 

In certain quarters of the War De- 
partment, the measure got a cold recep- 
tion. While his advice had not been 
asked, General Seaman was dead set 
against the fixed-fee contract. 85 He 
summed up his attitude in a statement to 
a congressional committee in 1941: "We 
never would have had any cost-plus jobs 
if I had my way about it. I don't believe 
in it. Too expensive." 86 A more formida- 
ble opponent was Louis Johnson, whom 
the authors of the bill had not consulted 
either. On learning that such a measure 
had been introduced in Congress, he 
protested to General Craig. Johnson 
maintained that the Defense Act gave 
him, as business head of the War De- 
partment, the same responsibility for 
construction as for other procurement 
activities. The General Staff opposed 
this view. Thus began a "paper war" 
which lasted well into 1940, each side 
bombarding the other with memoran- 
dums detailing their respective respon- 

94 The Constructor, October 1939, p. si. 

8S Seaman Intervs, 14, ai Jul 55, a Oct 57. 

95 Truman Gomm Hearings, Part 7, p. aoig. 



sibilities for construction. The issue was 
finally settled in the Assistant Secretary's 
favor. Meanwhile, Johnson threw the 
weight of his influence against what he 
apparently considered a premature 
switch to the fixed-fee method. 87 

On 23 June 1939 the Senate Military 
Affairs Committee held a hearing on 
the bill. Tyner and Hartman were the 
only witnesses. The G—4 explained why 
the proposed legislation was necessary. 
It was imperative, he said, that the over- 
seas bases be completed at an early date. 
If competitive contracts were used, it 
might take two and one-half years to 
finish the work — two months for readying 
plans and specifications, two more for 
advertising, two more for getting the 
jobs under way, and because fixed-price 
contractors would insist on plenty of 
time, two years for construction. Tyner 
warned that the competitive method 
would also be very expensive. Because 
bidders would have to take into account 
"unusual hazards, the uncertainty of 
weather, the distance from material and 
labor markets, and the cost of over- 
coming unforeseen construction dif- 
ficulties," contingency items would be 
huge. The fixed-fee contract offered a 
ready solution to these problems. In the 
absence of plans and specifications, con- 
struction could begin and go forward 
along with design and engineering work. 
Changes in the character and scope of 
a project could be made at any time and 
without much trouble. Moreover, since 
the government would assume nearly 
all the risk, it would probably pay less 
for fixed-fee construction. Coming to 
the matter of architect-engineer con- 

"(0 G-4/31381. (2) G-4/31364. (3) Incl, 23 
Mar 56, with Ltr, Brig Gen John W. N. Schulz to 
EHD, 24 Mar 56. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



99 



tracts, Tyner revealed that the War 
Department could not quickly enlarge 
its professional staff. Federal pay scales 
were too low and Civil Service pro- 
cedures too cumbersome. Even office 
space was lacking. "The obvious al- 
ternative," he told the committee, "is 
to engage the services of private engi- 
neering and architectural firms or in- 
dividuals to supplement the work of the 
War Department." With these pro- 
fessionals, negotiation was obligatory, 
for their national associations had 
declared competition in regard to 
fees unethical. Furthermore, Colonel 
Hartman added, "It is as illogical to 
advertise for the services of an engineering 
or architectural specialist as it would be 
to advertise for the services of a medical 
specialist." 88 

In response to the Senators' questions, 
Hartman described the fixed-fee con- 
tract and how it worked. The agreement 
was, as he phrased it, "essentially a 
contract for service." Under its terms, 
the contractor would furnish labor, ma- 
terials, and equipment and do every- 
thing necessary to complete the job in 
the shortest possible time. The govern- 
ment would reimburse him for all his 
expenses except home office overhead, 
executive salaries, and interest on bor- 
rowed money. Hartman emphasized that 
this was not a percentage agreement. In 
payment for his services, the contractor 
would receive a fee, determined at the 
time of negotiation and based on the 
original estimate of cost. No change in 
the amount of the fee would be made 
unless the scope of the project was ma- 

88 S Comm on Mil Affs, 76th Cong, 1 st sess, 
Hearings on S 256a, A Bill to Facilitate Certain Con- 
struction Work for the Army, and for Other Purposes, pp. 
3-6. 14- 



terially altered. The contractor's fee 
was like a salary. "We are hiring his 
brains and his organization to do the 
job for us," Hartman said. After pointing 
out that noninsurance of government 
property was a well-established prin- 
ciple, he went on to explain that the 
fixed-fee contract had long been used by 
such big corporations as General Motors 
and DuPont, which were in a position 
to spread risks widely. When several 
Senators asked whether contractors 
might not defraud the government by 
falsifying accounts, Hartman assured 
them that the War Department would 
have "absolute check and control" over 
all expenditures. While he maintained 
that including the terms of the contract in 
the bill would make the law too inflexi- 
ble, some of the members suggested that 
the legislation should be specific on that 
point. "As I understand it," said one, 
"you have stated what the intentions 
of the War Department are . . . 
but there is nothing in the law to guar- 
antee that what you say . . . will 
be carried out, is there?" "No, sir," 
Hartman answered, "except that we are 
all officers of the Government and bound 
to look after the interests of the Govern- 
ment and that is our intention." 89 Ap- 
parently satisfied, the committee re- 
ported the bill favorably. Some time 
would elapse before the proposal came 
to a vote. 

During June 1939 Congress was oc- 
cupied with other urgent legislation. The 
War Department followed with particu- 
lar interest the progress of two important 
bills. The first, the supplemental military 
appropriation bill for 1940, carried the 
funds for air expansion and for new posts 



pp. 7-15. 



100 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



in Panama. It also increased the enlisted 
strength of the Army from 1 74,000 to 
210,000. Approved on 1 July 1939, the 
measure provided $64,862,500 for con- 
struction plus a contract authorization 
of $21,337,500 and made available ad- 
ditional sums totaling $4,208,459 for 
maintenance, repairs, and real estate. 
The second bill contained the appropria- 
tion for work relief. Owing largely to the 
efforts of the Associated General Con- 
tractors, the bill was amended to prohibit 
WPA from participating in the con- 
struction of any federal building which 
cost more than $50,000. With approval 
of the relief act on 30 June, hopes of 
using large sums of WPA money on 
military projects collapsed. 90 Referring 
to the $50,000 limitation, Colonel Baade 
said, "That throws out most of our 
buildings — everything in the United 
States and Hawaii." 91 

With passage of the appropriation 
bills, the program took shape rapidly. 
At a series of meetings, funds were ear- 
marked and differences of opinion were 
reconciled. On 28 June Arnold, Tyner, 
Pitz, and members of their staffs held 
an all-day conference to decide how far 
the military appropriation — the "gold 
money" they called it — would stretch. 
Arnold and Tyner had agreed before- 
hand what priority each job would have. 
As Colonel Baade read down the list, the 
others determined how much relief money 
could be used for each job and how much 
"gold" would have to be allotted. Late 
that afternoon Tyner telephoned 
Marshall to report that the "gold money" 
had run out. By including $4 million 

90 (1) 53 Stat. 992. (a) 53 Stat. 93a. (3) Memo, 
G-4 for DCofS, ag Jul 39. G-4/29778. 

91 Notes of Confs, Arnold, Tyner, Pitz et al., a8 
Jun 39. G-4/31265 (Bulky). 



in WPA funds, a large part of it for 
grading, the conferees provided for troop 
housing in Panama and most of the Air 
Corps jobs. But the air depots and the 
Ordnance and Signal projects had had to 
be left out. At an informal get-together 
on the 30th, the Chief of Ordnance 
persuaded Tyner and Brig. Gen. Lorenzo 
D. Gasser, whom Marshall had recently 
chosen as his deputy, to divert $400,000 
from the Alaska air base to two labora- 
tory projects. For a time Johnson per- 
sisted in trying to use larger sums of 
WPA money, but at length he agreed 
to ask for a deficiency appropriation to 
cover the remaining industrial and depot 
projects. At Tyner's insistence, Seaman 
and Arnold ironed out their differences 
over design; Arnold accepted the Quar- 
termaster layouts and withdrew his 
objections to mobilization-type barracks, 
and Seaman promised to give the prefab 
industry an opportunity to compete for 
housing contracts. Affairs were soon in 
order. On 1 3 July, after months of wait- 
ing, Gibbins was formally directed to 
begin construction. 92 

Construction Gets Under Way 

When the directive reached General 
Seaman's desk, the Construction Division 
was set to go. New mobilization drawings 
were complete and detailed plans and 
layouts for many Air Corps projects 
were ready. By mid-July 1939 the di- 



Ibid, (a) Memo, G-4 for Marshall, 38 Jun 
39. AG 600.12 (1-23-36) sec. i-c. (3) Memo, with 
Incls, Tyner for CofS, 30 Jun 39. G-4/31265. (4) 
Memo, CofOrd for Gasser, 30 Jun 39. AG 600.13 
(1-23-36) Sec i-c. (5) Memo, Tyner for CofS, 14 
Jul 39. G-4/31265. (6) WD Ltr AG 580 (7-7-39) 
(Misc) (D) to TQMG, 1 1 Jul 39. (7) WD Ltr AG 580 
(7-1 1-39) (Misc) (D) to TQMG, 13 Jul 39. Last two 
in QM 600.1 (AG) 1937-39. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



101 



vision was forwarding specifications to 
the field along with instructions to ad- 
vertise immediately. In line with the 
agreement between Arnold and Seaman, 
Constructing Quartermasters were to 
call for alternate bids on mobilization 
structures and prefabs. Bids were to be 
opened not later than 10 August and 
shelter was to be available for the first 
increment of troops by 30 September. 
Meanwhile, at twenty-eight projects 
where WPA would participate, con- 
struction officers were working out ar- 
rangements with local relief authorities. 
At a cabinet meeting late in July 
Woodring reported that progress at 
existing posts was good and that pros- 
pects for the remainder of the program 
seemed bright. When he succeeded 
Hartman as executive officer early in 
August, Colonel Pitz had reason 
to believe that construction would go 
smoothly. 93 

This hopeful outlook was due in no 
small part to the efforts of Colonel 
Valliant. The chief of the Real Estate 
Branch lost no time in getting land ac- 
quisition under way. Hardly had 
Woodring approved the location for a 
new installation when the veteran Quar- 
termaster was on the scene. On 6 July 
Gibbins learned that Point Borinquen 
would be the site for the Puerto Rican 
air base. Three days later Valliant flew 
to the island to start condemnation pro- 
ceedings. Shortly after the selection on 



93 (1) Memo, ExecO G-4 for Constr Br G-4, 18 
Jul 39. G-4/31265 Sec 1. (2) Ltr, Constr Div to 
CQM, Barksdale Fid, La., 21 Jul 39. QM 621 
(Barksdale Fid) 1939. (3) Ltr, Pitz to CQM's, 31 
Jul 39. QM 600.1 (Barksdale Fid) 1938-39 II. (4) 
Memo, ExecO G— 4 for Constr Br G— 4, 26 Jul 3g. 
(5) Memo, with Incl, Seaman for Tyner, 26 Jul 3g. 
Last two in QM 600.1 (Augmentation Program) 
'939- 



14 July of a site near Tampa for the 
southeast air base, the future MacDill 
Field, Valliant went to Florida to over- 
see the donation by Hillsborough County 
of 5,800 acres of land to the government. 
With the approval in August of a 5,000- 
acre tract near Chicopee, Massachusetts, 
for the New England air base — to be 
known as Westover Field — the Real 
Estate Branch acted promptly to take 
options, secure rights of entry, arrange 
for the relocation of power lines, and 
negotiate for a railroad right-of-way. 
Pressure for speed was great. Each site 
presented its particular challenge. Yet the 
work was, for the most part, swiftly and 
skillfully done. 94 

Another encouraging development was 
passage of a deficiency appropriation 
bill. On 20 July the President sent to 
Congress a supplemental request for 
$16,931,300. This sum covered con- 
struction at nine projects. The bulk of 
the money, 814,730,900, was for two 
new air depots and additional facilities 
at two existing ones; $400,000 was to pay 
back the account of the Alaska air base; 
and the remainder was for three Ord- 
nance installations and the Signal Corps 
laboratory. Congress hastened to comply, 
and an act of August 9, 1939 gave the 
President all he had asked. Although 
eased considerably, the shortage of con- 
struction funds was by no means ended. 
General Arnold had tried unsuccessfully 
to insert an item for bombing ranges into 
the bill. Five important Ordnance proj- 
ects had not been provided for. The 

94 (1) Memo, Tyner for Gibbins, 6 Jul 39. (2) 
Telg, Gibbins to CG Puerto Rican Dept, S Jul 39. 
Both in QM 600.1 (Borinquen Fid) 1939. (3) Interv 
with Col Rigby D. Valliant, 1 1 Jun 56. (4) QM 601. 1 
(MacDill Fid) 1939. (5) G-4/31411. (6) OQMG 
Constr Div, Real Estate Branch Progress Report, 
21 Feb 41, pp. 2-5. Copy in EHD Files. 



102 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



funds available for buying land would 
probably be inadequate. Even so, the 
deficiency money gave the program a 
welcome boost. 95 

During August gains were substantial. 
The Construction Division turned out a 
sizable number of plans and layouts. 
Woodring picked a site near Mobile, 
Alabama, for one of the new air depots 
and approved locations for most of the 
Panama projects. A board of officers 
headed by Colonel Lee completed a 
survey of airfield sites in Alaska, and 
Maj. Edward M. George, who was to 
direct construction there, left with a 
staff for the territory. Many new proj- 
ects were starting up. Constructing Quar- 
termasters were assembling work crews, 
renting equipment, buying materials, 
and beginning what jobs they could by 
purchase and hire. Bids were being 
opened and contracts awarded. Here 
and there a runway was being poured 
and a building was going up. On 7 
August the President signed the fixed- 
fee bill, authorizing negotiated contracts 
for architectural and engineering ser- 
vices and for construction in Panama 
and Alaska. 9 * 

While the program as a whole seemed 
to be going well, trouble spots were ap- 
pearing. Several jobs fell behind because 
WPA could not furnish workmen. 
Changes in Air Corps requirements 
forced the abandonment of one project 

,6 (i) Ltr, the President to the Speaker, H R, ao 
Jul 39. (a) Ltr, Dir BOB to the President, ao Jul 39. 
Both in €3-4/31265 Sec 1. (3) 53 Stat. 1301. (4) 
Memo, Tyner for Marshall, 24 Jul 39. €1-4/30337-10. 
(5) Memo, G— 4 for Marshall, 31 Jul 39. G— 4/31 190- 
1. 

••(1) QM 600.1 (Panama) (AC Expansion) I. 
(2) QM 600.1 (Misc 1939). (3) QM 600.1 (Ladd Fid) 
(AC Program) II. (4) Incl with Memo, SGS for 
Marshall, 17 Aug 39. G— 4/31265 Sec 2, (5) 53 Stat. 

1239- 



and slowed construction at several others. 
The Quartermaster system of centralized 
control was encountering stubborn re- 
sistance from local commanders. General 
Arnold was becoming more and more 
critical of the Construction Division's 
methods. His agreement with Seaman 
regarding structural designs was not 
working out as the Air Corps had an- 
ticipated; contractors who based their 
offers on mobilization drawings were 
consistently underbidding prefab firms. 
Meanwhile, Johnson had renewed his 
efforts to transfer construction to the 
Engineers. Although initially unsuccess- 
ful, he had reason to be optimistic, for 
General Marshall assured him that a 
transfer was only a question of time. 97 
Word that the Army planned to con- 
struct the Alaska air base by day labor 
created a stir in contracting circles. On 
8 August the Lee board recommended 
building the base by purchase and hire. 
That afternoon the Assistant Secretary 
received a telegram of protest from the 
Associated General Contractors, urging 
that the job be done by the fixed-fee 
method. 68 In a reply framed by the 
Construction Division, Johnson stated 
that, since purchase and hire would take 
no longer and cost much less, Seaman 
was adopting the board's suggestion. 
Johnson went on to explain: "Execu- 
tion of construction on the basis of cost- 



•'(1) G-4/31265 Sec. 1. (2) QM 600.1 (Barksdale 
Fid) II. (3) Memo, Tyner for Gibbins, 25 Aug 39, 
G-4/31265 Sec II. (4) Memo, Marshall for Wood- 
ring, 1 Sep 39. G-4/31411. (5) 2d Ind, G-4 to 
TQMG, 1 Aug 39, on Ltr, TAG to TQMG, 3 Jun 39. 
QM 600.1 (Misc 1939). (6) R&R Sheet, Exec 
OCAC to Sup Div OCAC, 22 Aug 39. AAF Central 
Files, 600.1-600.12 I. (7) Ltr, Arnold to TAG, 9 Aug 
39. G-4/31 1 90-1. (8) AG 580 (3-31-26) (1) Sec 3A. 

»»(i) Ltr, Lee et al. to TAG, 8 Aug 39, WPD 
3512-38. (2) Telg, Harding to Johnson, 8 Aug 39. 
QM 600.1 (Ladd Fid) (AC Program) I. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



103 



plus-fixed-fee is, in the final analysis, 
practically identical with procedure by 
purchase and hire with the exception 
that in the former case the government 
would pay to the contractor a con- 
siderable fee for the Alaska project." 99 
The contractors expressed concern. "It 
is our hope," wrote AGC director 
Harding, "that this does not indicate a 
fundamental belief by the Quarter- 
master Corps that the use of contractors 
is superfluous, without advantage, on 
construction under difficult condi- 
tions." 100 While he refused to overrule 
Seaman, Johnson was reassuring. "The 
Quartermaster Corps, as you know," 
he reminded Harding, "is constantly uti- 
lizing the knowledge and skill of many 
contractors on numerous construction 
projects and expects to continue to do 
so." 101 

The outbreak of war in Europe on i 
September 1939 altered the construc- 
tion picture. The President moved swiftly 
to tighten defenses and to step up the 
pace of military preparations. On 5 
September he issued a proclamation of 
neutrality and transferred control of 
the Panama Canal from the Governor 
to General Stone. Three days later he 
proclaimed a limited national emer- 
gency and, by Executive Order, pro- 
vided for expansion of the Regular Army 
from 210,000 to 227,000 men and of the 
National Guard from 200,000 to 235,000. 
Meanwhile, the War Department took 
steps to meet the situation. It drew up 
plans for a defense program to cost be- 

" Ltr, Johnson to Harding, 1 7 Aug 39. G-4/31 364. 

See also original draft of this letter by Seaman. 
QM 600.1 (Ladd Fid) (AC Program) II. 

lM Ltr, Harding to Johnson, 31 Aug 39. QM 
600. t (Ladd Fid) (AG Program) I. 

101 Ltr, Johnson to Harding, 30 Aug 3g. QM 
600.1 (Ladd Fid) (AC Program) I. 



tween $850 million and $1 billion, though 
the President made no request to Con- 
gress at this time. Reinforcements went 
to Puerto Rico and Panama. Additional 
demands rained in on the Construction 
Division: set up temporary tent camps 
for recruits; provide makeshift shelter 
in the Caribbean area; rush a runway 
to completion in Puerto Rico; expedite 
all work at oudying bases; and, above 
all, push the Panama jobs. 102 

Autumn of 1939 was a busy time for 
the Construction Division. Hard pressed 
to meet the demands of the Expansion 
Program, Seaman and his organization 
faced a new series of rush orders growing 
out of the recent increase in the Army. 
There was more building to do but no 
supplemental appropriation to do it 
with. Funds for the additional work had 
somehow to be scraped together. Colonel 
Harrington was co-operative, giving pri- 
ority in assignment of relief workers to 
construction for the recruits. But re- 
strictions on spending WPA funds for 
materials limited the help that he could 
give. A total of $3,640,000 came from 
Woodring's reserve and Gibbin's main- 
tenance, fuel, and furniture funds. Sums 
also came from the accounts set up for 
Expansion projects, and, in some in- 
stances, troops did construction. Seaman 
tried by various methods to expedite the 
work. To relieve his overburdened design 
section, he took advantage of the Act of 
August 7 to employ private architects 
and engineers for seven large projects, 
including MacDill, Westover, and Borin- 

102 (1) Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. i56ff. (2) Memo, 
Tyner for TAG, 1 Sep 39. WPD 4191-3. (3) WD 
Ltr 320.2 (9-1 1-39) M-D to CG Puerto Rican Dept, 
so Sep 39. WPD 4191-4, (4) Memo, Gasser for 
Tyner, 14 Sep 3g. CofS, Emergency Measures, 
■939-4° (Misc File). (5) DS, Tyner to Gibbins, ao 
Nov 39. 0-4/30553-38. 



104 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



quen Fields and the Alaska air base. He 
and members of his staff made frequent 
trips to the field. He encouraged Con- 
structing Quartermasters to keep in 
touch with Washington by telephone 
and report any bottlenecks at once. 
Lastly, he urged Woodring, Arnold, and 
local commanders to make decisions on 
construction matters quickly. 10 * 

By the end of the year, Seaman had 
accomplished quite a bit. He had most 
of the land required for a dozen major 
projects. He had permanent construc- 
tion at existing stations in this country 
under way. He had designs and blue- 
prints for the Ogden Depot, Westover, 
and MacDill. He had completed prac- 
tically all the temporary shelter. In 
Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and Alaska, work 
was proceeding according to plan. Con- 
tractors at Hickam Field were on or 
ahead of schedule. Under ist Lt. Morton 
E. Townes, one of the young West Point- 
ers who had chosen a construction ca- 
reer, work at Borinquen was going 
smoothly: the runway was in; the layout 
for the entire base had won praise from 
the department commander; and clear- 
ing, grading, and drainage operations 
were well along. Major George reported 
that the Alaska project was off to a 
promising start: planning was far ad- 
vanced; a site at Fairbanks was under 
development; and preparations were 
moving ahead for the main construction 
effort in the spring. But while the pro- 
gram as a whole was progressing satis- 

10J (i) Memo, Wilson for Tyner, 23 Sep 39. QM 
600.1 (Works Projects) V. (2) Ltr, Marshall for 
Harrington, 29 Sep 39. G-4/29778. (3) WD Ltr AG 
600.12 Ft Sam Houston (9-28-39) to TQMG, 5 Oct 
39. G- 4/30002-70. (4) WD Ltr AG 600. 12 (2-14-40) 
M-D to TQMG, 16 Feb 40. 652 I. (5) Seaman 
Interv, 2 Oct 57. (6) G-4/31265-2 to 10. (7) QM 
600.1 (Ladd Field) (AC Program) I and II. 



factorily, several key projects were 
lagging. One was the Mobile Depot, 
still delayed by lack of funds for land. 
Another was McChord Field, Washing- 
ton, where boggy ground hampered run- 
way construction. Of gravest concern 
was the work in Panama. 104 

From the first the Panama jobs were 
beset by troubles. Early in 1 939 disagree- 
ments had arisen over the choice of sites. 
After locations were firm, Hartman had 
difficulty getting layouts approved as 
first General Arnold and then General 
Stone challenged his plans. Maj. George 
F. Hobson, who took over the new post 
of Constructing Quartermaster in July, 
soon discovered that his was a tough 
assignment. He got a cold reception from 
Stone, who had had another man in mind 
for the position. In carrying out the 
emergency program, Hobson faced for- 
midable obstacles. Except for brick and 
tile, virtually no construction materials 
were produced locally. Machinery was 
scarce. Skilled labor was at a premium 
and semiskilled workmen were hard to 
find. Hobson and his two assistants had 
to start from scratch to build an organi- 
zation. When Seaman suggested that 
the Panama work be done by purchase 
and hire, Hobson opposed the idea. The 
two men were soon at odds. In September 
the outlook brightened. On the 5th 
Major Nurse flew to Panama, where 
he persuaded General Stone to approve 
the Quartermaster layouts. On the 8th 
a group of architects and engineers ar- 

104 ( 1 ) Memo, G-4 for Red, 6 Jan 40. G-4/30552- 
29. (2) Ltr, Hq Puerto Rican Dept to TAG, 21 Dec 
39. QM 611 (Borinquen Fid) 1940. (3) Rad, CG 
Puerto Rican Dept to TQMG, 1 Dec 39. QM 600.1 
(Borinquen Fid) (AC Program) 1939-40. (4) Ltr, 
Gibbins to CG San Francisco POE, 16 Dec 39. 
QM 600.1 (Ladd Fid) (AC Program) II. (5) Memo, 
Hartman for G— 4, 4 Mar 40. QM 600.1 (Misc) 1940. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



105 




Equipment Arriving at Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico, November 1939. 



rived from the United States. The next 
day Colonel Danielson replaced Major 
Hobson. 105 

Late in September Woodring decided 
to do the Panama jobs by the fixed-fee 
method. By using emergency agreements 
he hoped not only to speed the work 
but also to cut costs by 35 percent. There 
would be three contracts, one for the 
Atlantic side and two for the Pacific. 
Leading construction firms would be 
invited to apply. A committee of three 
officers would rate the applicants on 
experience, organization, and financial 
responsibility and submit a list of those 
that seemed best qualified to the Secre- 
tary. A board headed by Woodring 
would then make final selections and 
conduct negotiations. Two of the of- 



Memo, Lee for Strong, 8 Jun 39. WPD 
3809—24. (2) Ltr, Hartman to Arnold, 5 Jun 39, with 
1st Ind, 9 Jun 39. QM 600.1 (Albrook Fid) (AC 
Program). (3) QM 600.1 (Panama) (AC Expansion) 
I. (4) Memo, Seaman for Gibbins, 25 Jul 39. QM 
600.1 (Panama) 1930-41, 



ficers named to the committee were 
Engineers — Col. John R. D. Matheson 
of Tyner's staff, and Capt. David A. D. 
Ogden of the Chiefs office. The third 
member was Maj. Elmer G. Thomas, 
one of the few active Quartermaster 
officers who had directed a cost-plus 
project during World War I. As chief 
of the newly organized Fixed Fee Section 
of Seaman's office, Thomas would have 
charge of all work done under emer- 
gency agreements. Matheson, Ogden, 
and Thomas had no time to lose, for 
Woodring wanted the list as soon as 
possible. 1 " 6 

At Gibbin's invitation, fifty of the 
nation's top constructors submitted ap- 
plications. Among those who thus ex- 
pressed their interest in a fixed-fee con- 
tract were such giant concerns as George 
A. Fuller, Mason & Hanger, Starrett 

I0 ' ( 1 ) Memo, Gasser for Gibbins, 30 Sep 39. 
0-4/31364. (2) Interv with Col Elmer G. Thomas, 
27 Dec 55. (3) OQMG Office Order 34, 16 Oct 39. 
QM 020 (Constr) 1921-39. 



106 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Brothers and Eken, and the Walsh Con- 
struction Company. Although few of 
the other applicants were quite so strong 
financially as these companies, all en- 
joyed outstanding reputations. Some of 
the less prosperous firms proposed to 
work in combinations of two or three. 
With so many fine candidates to choose 
from, the committee could not fail to 
find a number eminently qualified for 
the Panama jobs. After reviewing the 
information sent in by contractors, check- 
ing with Dun & Bradstreet, and con- 
sulting the Bureau of Contract Infor- 
mation of the AGC, Thomas and his 
colleagues rated the applicants. They 
also drafted a contract and established 
a tentative fee schedule. Meanwhile, 
the Fixed Fee Section arranged to trans- 
port men, equipment, and materials to 
the Canal Zone. By the third week in 
October, all was in readiness. Woodring 
had only to name the contractors and 
negotiate the contracts. 107 

It was not to be that simple. The pro- 
cedure adopted by the Secretary sparked 
accusations that the War Department 
was favoring big business. The AGC and 
the building trades unions demanded 
that all contractors have equal oppor- 
tunities. On learning that a majority of 
the applicants were from the East, several 
congressmen from other sections raised 
objections. Other congressmen entered 
pleas on behalf of constituents. Late in 
October Woodring agreed to circu- 
larize the industry. Interested parties 
had until 8 November to file experience 

107 (i ) Ltr, Pitz to George A. Fuller Co., 28 Sep 39. 
QM 095 (Fuller, George A.) 1936-41. (2) Memo, 
Ogden for Schley, 21 Oct 39. (3) Ltr, Pitz to Daniel- 
son, 20 Oct 39. Last two in Thomas Papers. (4) 
Answers to Questionnaire, Thomas to EHD, 31 May 
56. (5) Memo, Matheson, Thomas, and Ogden for 
the Board of Selection, 25 Oct 39. Thomas Papers. 



briefs. Any firm or combination of firms 
capable of handling a nine-million- 
dollar project was eligible. Nearly one 
hundred individual companies and joint 
ventures applied. Some failed to qualify, 
their assets being insufficient. The com- 
mittee quickly graded the rest and, on 
17 November, sent a list of seventeen 
"first choice" contractors to the Secre- 
tary. At this point, a powerful sponsor, 
dean of the House Adolph J. Sabath, 
urged selection of a contractor who, as 
Thomas put it, had his office in his hat 
and who, moreover, had recently drawn 
a heavy penalty for not completing a 
job on time. Unable to withstand this 
pressure and unwilling to give in to it, 
Woodring in early December ordered 
Seaman to advertise the Panama proj- 
ects for fixed-price letting. Under the 
slow competitive system, bids could not 
be opened before February. 108 The at- 
tempt to expedite construction in 
Panama by using fixed-fee contracts 
had ended in failure. 

The scapegoat for the Panama fiasco 
was the Quartermaster Corps. In vain 
did General Gibbins protest that the 
delay in letting contracts was owing 
"to causes beyond the control of this of- 
fice." 1119 From Panama General Stone 
wired the War Department: "Dry season 

108 (1) QM 600.1 (Panama) 1920-39. (2) Ltr, 
Pitz to All Contractors, circa 31 Oct 39. (3) Telg, 
Gibbins to The Austin Co., Phila., Pa., 31 Oct 39. 
Last two in Thomas Papers. (4) The Constructor, 
November 1939, p. 16. (5) Ltr, with Incl, Matheson 
ei al. to the Board of Selection, r 7 Nov 39. Thomas 
Papers. (6) Thomas Interv, 27 Dec 55. (7) Answers 
to Questionnaire, Thomas to EHD, 31 May 56. (8) 
Memo, Gasser for Gibbins, 13 Nov 39. QM 600.1 
(Panama) 1930-41. (9) Ltrs, Woodring to Rep 
Adolph J. Sabath, 14 Nov, 7 Dec 39. SW Files, 
Constr Work, 251-650. (10) Telg, TAG to Stone, 
12 Dec 39. QM 600.1 (Panama) (AC Expansion) I. 

109 2d Ind, Gibbins to TAG, 7 Dec 39, basic missing. 
QM 600.1 (Panama) (AC Expansion) I. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



107 



has come and weather is fine .... 
Am more convinced than ever of neces- 
sity of putting all construction work here 
under the direction of the Department 
Commander. With the push and initia- 
tive he can give, the work will be car- 
ried on to early completion." 110 General 
Arnold, still the Quartermaster's most 
persistent critic, expressed particular dis- 
satisfaction with the handling of the 
Panama air base. Until this time General 
Seaman had managed to hold his own. 
With Tyner's help he had checkmated 
a move by the Air Corps to take over 
airfield design; and he had withstood 
continuing pressure from the AGC for 
a fixed-fee contract in Alaska. There 
were some who praised his efforts, among 
them Brig. Gen. George H. Brett of 
Arnold's staff. 111 But Brett's voice and 
the voices of like-minded men were 
drowned out by the rising chorus of 
complaints. 

Removing construction from the 
Quartermaster Corps came up again. 
In October 1939 two members of the 
House Appropriations Committee, 
Representatives Albert J. Engel and 
Joe Starnes, informed the General Staff 
that they intended to sponsor legislation 
giving the function to the Corps of En- 
gineers. The news was not particularly 
welcome. A premature attempt to bring 



U0 Telg, Stone to TAG, 4 Dec 39. QM 600. i 
(Panama) (AC Expansion) I. 

111 ( 1 ) DS, G-4 to TQMG, 7 Dec 39. G-4/30552-20. 
(2) Memo, Arnold for Tyner, n.d., sub: Delay in AC 
Constr Program. QM 600. r (Air Corps) (Emergency 
Program) 1940. (3) R&R Sheet, B&G Sec OCAC 
to Arnold, 22 Aug 39, with handwritten note thereon. 
AAF Central Files, 600.121 from Jul 39-Aug 40. 

(4) Ltr, CQM to CO Barksdale Fid, 28 Dec 
39, and Inds. QM 600.1 (Barksdale Fid) 1940. 

(5) G-4/31364. (6) R&R Sheet, Brett to Arnold, 7 
Nov 39. AAF Central Files, 600.121 from Jul 39-Aug 
40. 



about the change might ruin the En- 
gineers' chances for years to come. Al- 
though the congressmen seemed in no 
hurry, General Marshall had to be 
ready to take a stand should a bill be 
introduced. Somewhat reluctantly, he 
reopened the question. The Staff re- 
viewed earlier studies and kept an eye 
on Quartermaster progress. 112 Vetoing a 
proposal by a former member of the 
wartime Construction Division to re- 
establish the separate corps, General 
Tyner conceded that a change was 
desirable but maintained that construc- 
tion should go to the Engineers even- 
tually. "The enormous . . . pro- 
gram now underway is too far de- 
veloped," he added, "to change horses 
at this moment." 113 Then, on 18 Janu- 
ary 1940, the President called once more 
for recommendations as to what changes 
should be made under the Reorganiza- 
tion Act. The next day General Gasser 
asked Tyner what to do with mainte- 
nance if construction went to the En- 
gineers. 114 Learning from Matheson what 
was afoot, General Schley hastened to 
offer his views. Maintenance, he insisted, 
should be left where it was. As for trans- 
ferring construction, he felt the time 
was inopportune. The change should 
not take place while the Quartermaster 
Corps was in the midst of a big emer- 
gency program. "Any transfer," Schley 
wrote, "no matter to what organization, 
will cause delay. Such a delay might be 

lis (i) Memo, OCofS (Maj James D. Mclntyre) 
for Marshall, 26 Oct 39. AG 020 (4-21-39). (2) 
Memo, Tyner for Strong, 13 Nov 39. G— 4/30552-25. 
(3) Tel Conv, Col Chamberlain, G— 4, and Seaman, 
29 Dec 39. QM 600.1 (Misc) 1940. 

1U Memo, Tyner for Marshall, 26 Dec 39. G— 
3/31597. 

114 (1 ) Ltr, BOB to Woodring, 18 Jan 40. (2) Memo, 
Gasser for Tyner, 19 Jan 40. Both in AGO 020 

( 4 _2 j-jg). 



108 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




General Moore 



serious at this time." 116 This argument 
made a deep impression on the new G— 4, 
Brig. Gen. Richard C. Moore, who had 
succeeded Tyner on 21 January. When 
Moore, who was an Engineer officer, 
suggested that the transfer be postponed 
for at least a year, Marshall and 
Woodring decided to wait. 116 

This decision was followed shortly by 
the retirement of General Seaman. Re- 
called from the West Coast late in 
February, Colonel Hartman became 
head of the Construction Division on 
1 March 1940. The new chief was gen- 
erally regarded as the logical man for 
the job. Within the Construction Service 
he had long enjoyed an outstanding 
reputation. Capable and conscientious, 



115 Memo, Schley for Matheson, 2 Feb 40. 600. 1 
Secret File No. 1 of a Secret Files. 

114 (i) Memo, Moore for Marshall, 10 Feb 40. 
(2) Memo, Moore for Marshall, 24 Feb 40. (3) Ltr, 
Woodring to BOB, 8 Feb 40. All in G-4/31343. 



he had won the respect of the General 
Staff. General Spalding had commended 
him highly. General Tyner, asked later 
if he had considered Hartman compe- 
tent, replied laconically, "God, yes." 
And although General Moore would have 
preferred to see the position filled by 
an Engineer, he agreed that the new 
man seemed particularly well qualified. 117 
General Gregory, who succeeded Gibbins 
on 1 April 1940, raised no objections. 
Afterward he said, "At the time I was 
made Quartermaster General, my three 
assistants had already been chosen, which 
included General Hartman, but I proba- 
bly would have appointed him anyway 
because he had been in the Construction 
Division during World War I and had 
made a very good record then." 118 In 
the months to come, Hartman was to 
need all of his knowledge and exper- 
ience, for on his shoulders soon would 
fall the mande of Littell. 

The Period of the Phony War 

In the offing was a far larger and better 
balanced program than the one begun 
in 1939. Throughout the months of the 
"phony war," military leaders, antici- 
pating a major emergency, pressed for 
further rearmament. Among their im- 
mediate goals were a Regular Army of 
280,000, a National Guard of 450,000, 
critical and essential items of equipment 
for the Protective Mobilization Force, 
and a stronger network of defenses. Be- 
yond this they sought to prepare the 
way for an eventual wartime force of 



117 ( 1 ) Pagan Interv, 8 Mar 57 ; Tyner Interv, 98 
Sep 55. (a) Memo, Moore for Marshall, 30 Mar 40, 
AG 020 (4-21-39)- 

'"Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings, p. 8. 



COMING OF THE EMERGENCY 



109 



4,000,000 men. By peacetime standards 
the cost of construction alone would be 
staggering. The sums required for ex- 
panding existing arsenals, depots, and 
proving grounds and for building new 
manufacturing plants came to more 
than $400 million. About $100 million 
would go for troop construction at es- 
tablished posts in the United States. 
The Air Corps' deferred projects would 
cost another $100 million. To complete 
the installations in the overseas posses- 
sions would take at least $55 million 
more. These sums did not cover the pro- 
posed improvement of seacoast defenses. 
Nor did they include contemplated 
projects for which no estimates had yet 
been made. An early beginning was im- 
perative, particularly for the industrial 
projects. 119 In December 1939 the Chief 
of Ordnance, Maj. Gen. Charles M. 
Wesson, warned the Assistant Secretary 
that time was wasting. "To adequately 
prepare this nation for a major war," 
he said, "would require, under present 
conditions, two years from the time 
money is available." 120 

The Army had neither the funds nor 
the authority to launch its bold new 
program. The outbreak of war in Europe 
had raised hopes of immediate large 
appropriations and vigorous action, but 
these hopes were dashed as the President, 
trimming his sails to the political winds, 
decided to go slowly. In October 1939 

119 (1) Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. i57ff. (a) Memo, 
Marshall for Woodring, 7 Sep 39. CofS, Misc Confs, 
1938-42. (3) WD Ltr AG 330.3 (10-37-39) E-C to 
WDGS, 30 Oct 39. G-4/31453. (4) Memo, Tyner 
for Strong, 8 Jan 40. G— 4/31349-1. (5) Incl with 
Ltr, Woodring to A. J. May, Chm H Mil Affs Comm, 
i3"Jan 40. SW Files, Nat Def 151-400. (6) Memo, 
Seaman for TAG, 9 Jan 40. QM 600.1 (Funds) 
VIII. 

UB Memo, Wesson for Johnson, 2 Dec 39. SW 
Files— 782-850. 



the Bureau of the Budget notified the 
War Department that requests should 
be for minimum requirements only. Be- 
fore long Roosevelt revealed his inten- 
tion of starting a drive for governmental 
economy. In November he asked Con- 
gress for a modest sum to defray the costs 
of the limited emergency. The Construc- 
tion Division would receive a mere 
Si 0,661,600, two-thirds of which was to 
pay back money borrowed from au- 
thorized projects. The War Department's 
budget for fiscal year 1941, presented 
to Congress in January 1940, contained 
but $30,061,748 for construction, 
$18,857,458 for maintenance, and 
$866,000 for land. And when the Presi- 
dent made drastic cuts in the rivers and 
harbors estimate, the House retaliated 
by slashing the estimate for military con- 
struction in half. Meanwhile, the Budget 
Bureau's insistence that future askings 
be small hampered the Army's effort 
to draft a new construction authoriza- 
tion bill. 121 As long as the "phony war" 
continued, a big preparedness effort 
seemed unlikely. 

The Construction Division needed time 
to get ready. After two decades of mobi- 
lization planning the War Department 



121 ( 1 ) Ltr, BOWD to Chiefs of Estimating Agencies, 
30 Oct 39. G— 4/3 1 190-7. (2) New York Times, 
November 27, 1939, p. 1; December 6, 1939, p. 3; 
December 27, 1939, p. 1 ; January 1, 1940, p. 1. (3) 
H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d sess, Hearings on Emergency Supplemental Appropria- 
tion Bill for 1940, Nov 39, pp. iff., 68-80. (4) Brief, 
OCofS (W.M.R.) 12 Feb 40. QM 652 1922-40. (5) 
H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d sess, Hearings on Military Establishment Appropria- 
tion Bill for 1941, Feb-Mar 40, pp. 23-26, 388. (6) 
H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d 
sess, Hearings on War Department Civil Functions Bill 
for 1941, Jan-Feb 40, pp. ioiff. (7) S Subcomm of the 
Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on 
Military Establishment Appropriation Bill for 1941, Apr- 
May 40, pp. 5-6. (8) G-4/30552 G-4/30552-27. 



110 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



still had no effective blueprint for car- 
rying out a large emergency building 
program. Addressing the annual con- 
vention of the AGC at Memphis on 8 
February 1940, Assistant Secretary 
Johnson said, "Let me frankly confess, 
we are not ready to face an M-day on 
the construction front .... We 
have been so busy on the munitions front 
of guns, planes, tanks and fighting equip- 
ment that we have neglected the con- 
struction phases of industrial mobiliza- 
tion which are equally important toward 
the ultimate success of battle." 122 The 
plans for command construction were 
in far worse shape than those for in- 
dustrial projects. The latest Protective 
Mobilization Plan echoed earlier versions 
in calling for litde building. Johnson tried 
belatedly to remedy the situation. In 
February 1940 he organized a Con- 
struction Section in ANMB and in- 
structed it to study not only industrial 



The Constructor, February 1940, p, ao. 



but command requirements as well. 
Other responsible officials continued to 
neglect the problem. Aside from forcing 
the Quartermaster Corps to make ex- 
haustive studies of prefabs, General 
Tyner did litde to advance construction 
preparations. General Seaman did even 
less. In October 1939 he abolished the 
Planning Branch and henceforth made 
no apparent effort to ready the division 
for a full-scale emergency. 12 8 When 
Hartman returned in early 1940, time 
was fast running out. 

With the coming of spring, the 
"phony war" in Europe ended. As the 
Germans launched their swift offensives 
and won their crushing victories, the 
United States began to mobilize. 



1M (i) WD, MR 4-1, 5 Jan 40, sub: Supply, 
Constr, Transport, Sec V, (a) Memo, Secy ANMB 
for Gibbins, 8 Feb 40. ANMB Files — 334 Gomm 
Members and Min of Mtgs (Constr Sec). (3) G— 
4/31409-1. (4) QM 600.1 (Prefab Bldgs). ( 5 )OQMG 
Office Order 34, 16 Oct 39. QM oao (Constr) 1921- 
39- 



CHAPTER IV 



First Steps Toward Mobilization 



The lightning German attacks on 
Denmark and Norway in April 1940, 
followed by the invasion of Belgium and 
the Netherlands in May and the fall of 
France in June, brought into operation 
the War Department's M-day plans. As 
the Allies' situation became increasingly 
critical, the President outlined a vast 
program for defense. He proposed to 
call to arms the largest peacetime force 
in the nation's history, to equip it fully 
with up-to-date weapons, and to gear 
the economy for rapid production of 
implements of war. Spurred by Hitler's 
victories, Congress voted huge appro- 
priations and granted necessary powers. 
The course of events in Europe under- 
scored the urgency of American rearma- 
ment. But, before the United States could 
mobilize, before it could create a large, 
modern army and realize its industrial 
potential for war, it first had to build 
facilities for housing and training troops 
and for manufacturing and storing muni- 
tions. As in 191 7, construction emerged 
as the controlling factor in preparedness. 

The Defense Program 

In mid-May, while German armies 
were overrunning the Low Countries, 
the President asked Congress to add 
$732 million to the military appropria- 
tion bill for 1 94 1, then before the Senate. 
The bulk of this money was to cover 
costs of increasing the Regular Army to 



255,000 men and procuring equipment 
for the Protective Mobilization Force, 
which might soon be called out. The 
President's request included $26 million 
for building service schools, tactical 
stations, storage, shelter, and seacoast 
defenses. It also contained a substantial 
sum for breaking bottlenecks in the 
production of critical items — $44,275,000 
to enlarge the old-line arsenals and erect 
four new government-owned munitions 
plants: two for making smokeless powder, 
one for loading ammunition, and one 
for manufacturing Garand Mi rifles. 
Appearing before the Senate Appropri- 
ations Committee on 1 7 May, General 
Marshall recommended a further step — 
expansion of the Army to 280,000, the 
peacetime limit set by the National 
Defense Act of 1920. Congress quickly 
acceded to these requests. The aug- 
mented bill, approved on 1 3 June, gave 
the War Department $1,756,552,958 in 
funds and contract authorities. A total 
of $133,880,887 was earmarked for con- 
struction. 1 

On 3 1 May, as the German tide swept 
toward Dunkerque, President Roosevelt 
sent a second urgent request to Congress, 
this one for "over a billion dollars." Di- 
recting attention to the "almost incredible 

1 ( 1 ) Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. 
Roosevelt, 1940, pp. 198-305. (a) S Subcomm of the 
Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on H 
R 9*09, pp. 400-401, 404, 406, 409. (3) 54 Shit. 350. 
(4) For a detailed account of the events treated in this 
section, see Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 166-92. 



112 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



events of the past two weeks," he urged 
"the speedy enlargement of the program 
for equipping and training in the light of 
our defense needs." Roosevelt emphasized 
the need for munitions plants. He de- 
clared: "These facilities require a long 
time to create and to reach quantity 
production. The increased gravity of the 
situation indicates that action should be 
taken without delay." But while he put 
industrial requirements first, the Com- 
mander in Chief did not neglect the 
need for a larger army. He coupled his 
appeal for funds with a request for au- 
thority to bring the National Guard into 
federal service. 2 The German successes 
in western Europe and the threatened 
disaster to Great Britain, which possibly 
might involve the surrender of the 
British fleet, had changed the whole 
rearmament picture. A new urgency 
gripped the nation's military planners 
and Congress. No longer would modest 
increases in the armed forces suffice. 
What came to be called the defense pro- 
gram was, after late May, a broad 
build-up at the fastest possible rate, not 
only for the immediate goal, defense of 
the Western Hemisphere, but also for 
wider demands that might lie in the 
future. 

Two days before his second message 
to Congress, on 29 May, Roosevelt took 
the first organizational step toward ex- 
pediting the defense effort. On that date 
he revived the Advisory Commission to 
the Council of National Defense 
(NDAC), a World War I agency which 
had never been formally abolished.* 

1 Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 

r 94°, PP- 25°-5a- 

3 Council of Nat Def, Rules and Regulations (5 
F.R. 2213), 29 May 40. Authority for the appointment 
of the Advisory Commission was in the Act of August 
29. '9 l6 (39 Stat. 649)- 



In a fireside chat a few evenings earlier, 
he had cleared the way for this move, 
announcing that he would call in men 
from industry to help direct rearmament. 
"It is our purpose," the President told 
his listeners, "not only to speed up pro- 
duction but to increase the total facilities 
of the nation in such a way that they 
can be further enlarged to meet emer- 
gencies of the future." But, he added, 
"We must make sure, in all that we do, 
that there be no breakdown or cancella- 
tion of the great social gains we have 
made in these past years." He saw noth- 
ing in the situation to warrant longer 
hours, lower standards of pay, or poorer 
working conditions. Rather he envisioned 
the New Deal and preparedness going 
forward together, the one furthering the 
other. 4 An order of 24 June named the 
commission's members, three to serve 
full time and four part time. The full- 
time advisers were to be William S. 
Knudsen, president of General Motors; 
Edward R. Stettinius, Jr., chairman of 
the board of U.S. Steel; and Sidney 
Hillman, head of the CIO's Amalga- 
mated Clothing Workers. 6 

As a matter of fact, the commission 
had already started to function. The 
first meeting took place at the White 
House on the morning of 30 May. Since 
NDAC was to be his co-ordinating 
agency, Roosevelt on 6 June ordered 
the Army and Navy to submit for its 
approval contracts for "all important 
purchases" — later defined as those 
amounting to $500,000 or more. Agree- 
ments "for construction as well as for 

4 Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
1940, pp. 236-38. 

s ( 1 ) Council of Nat Def, Nominations to Advisory 
Commission (5 F.R. 2583), 24 Jun 40. (2) Civilian Pro- 
duction Administration, Industrial Mobilization for War, 
r, Program and Administration (Washington, 1 947 ), p. 1 9. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



113 



supplies would be subject to this review. 
The commission began almost at once to 
chart a course consistent with the Presi- 
dent's aims. By late June the members 
were in substantial agreement that ways 
would have to be found to obtain earliest 
deliveries at lowest prices and that work 
would have to be spread in such a way 
as to reduce unemployment and utilize 
idle productive capacity. They recog- 
nized that these ends were attainable 
only if contracting methods were both 
flexible and streamlined. 6 

While the Advisory Commission was 
thus engaged, the War Department, too, 
was bestirring itself. At the instance of 
Assistant Secretary Johnson and his 
executive, Colonel Burns, supplemental 
estimates were in preparation and long- 
range plans were under consideration 
for an Army of 4,000,000 men. On 1 1 
June, the day after Italy entered the 
war, Johnson appointed a 7-man com- 
mittee "to submit a balanced program 
based on military needs . . . for the crea- 
tion of additional productive capacity." 7 
The formation of this committee was but 
part of an intensive effort to define the 
Army's objectives which began on the 
nth. Knudsen had that day demanded 
to know how much productive capacity 
the country would need and when. For 
the next three weeks, Johnson and 
Marshall endeavored to find an answer. 8 



• {0 CPA, Industrial Mobilization for War, pp. 
19-25. (2) Memo, Roosevelt for Woodring, 6 Jun 40. 
WPB 411.33 Constr Project, Mil, Jun 40-41. (3) 
CPA, Minutes of the Advisory Commission to the Council of 
National Defense, June r, tgqo to October 22, ig^r 
(Washington, 1946), pp. 2-3, 15-17. Cited hereinafter 
as Minutes of the NDAC. 

7 Memo, Johnson for . . . , 1 1 Jun 40. 
ASF 134 A, Constr Program — Site Comm. 

8 (i) Memo, Burns for Johnson, 13 Jun 40, sub: 
National Policy on Mun Production Capacity. 470 
Part 1. (2) Burns Interv, 24 May 56. 



In June, while the scope of the de- 
fense program was becoming clear, the 
War Department received its first large 
increase in emergency funds. On the 
26th the President signed the First 
Supplemental National Defense Appro- 
priation Act for 1 94 1, providing for the 
expenditure of slightly more than a 
billion dollars. Roughly one-quarter of 
the money was for construction. Since it 
came so early, this measure did not 
allow for a substantially larger military 
force than had the regular appropriation 
of 13 June. The enlisted strength of 
the Army was raised to 375,000, but 
there was as yet no action on the Presi- 
dent's proposal to call the National 
Guard. A total of $84,079,584 was made 
available for reception centers, troop 
housing, airfields, and seacoast defenses. 
More significant was the provision of 
$200 million for expediting production. 9 
This sum was almost five times as much 
as the act of 13 June had furnished for 
the same purpose — an indication of 
what General Marshall in mid-June 
termed "the rapidly developing threat 
... of the world situation." 10 

By the end of the month the War 
Department had outlined the basic plan 
that would guide the first phase of its 
rearmament effort. Known as the 30 
June Munitions Program, the plan was 
designed primarily to create the facilities 
needed to equip and maintain an army 
of 2,000,000 men. The President ap- 
proved the program on 2 July and sub- 
mitted it to Congress with a price tag 
of $3.9 billion on the 10th, together with 



• ( 1 ) 54 Stat. 599. (2) H Subcomm of the Comm on 
Appns, 77th Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on Military 
Establishment Appropriation Bill for 194s, pp. 6, 1 56-57. 

10 S Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d sess, Hearings on H R 1 0055, p. 4. 



114 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



a request for 15,000 planes. 11 He de- 
scribed the objectives, aside from air- 
craft procurement, as follows: 

To complete the total equipment for a 
land force of approximately 1,200,000 men, 
though of course this total of men, would not 
be in the Army in time of peace. 

To procure reserve stocks of tanks, guns, 
artillery, ammunition, etc., for another 
800,000 men or a total of 2,000,000 men if a 
mobilization of such a force should become 
necessary. 

To provide for manufacturing facilities, 
public and private, necessary to produce 
critical items of equipment for a land force 
of 2,000,000 men, and to produce the ord- 
nance items required for the aircraft program 
of the Army and Navy — guns, bombs, armor, 
bombsights and ammunition. 12 

The last of these objectives alone meant 
that the War Department would build 
its own munitions industry. Because 
critical items were by definition non- 
commercial articles normally not pro- 
duced by private industry, most of the 
new manufacturing plants would be 
government built and owned. A vast 
military construction effort would be 
necessary to achieve the program's goal, 
which was, in the President's words, the 
filling of "the material requirements 
without which the manpower of the 
nation, if called into service, cannot 
effectively operate, either in the pro- 
duction of arms and goods, or their 
utilization in repelling attack." 13 

Until now the administration had not 
sought to muster a citizen army. It 
being an election year, the President 
was wary of anything so controversial as 



11 ( 1 ) Memo, Marshall for Johnson, a Jul 4x5. 
(2) Memo, Burns for Red, 3 Jul 40. (3) Memo, 
Johnson for Secy NDAC, 16 Jul 40. All in G-4/31 773. 

w Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
1940, p. ago. 

" Ibid. 



a peacetime draft. Pressure for com- 
pulsory military service had, therefore, 
to come from other sources. It was 
through the efforts of the Military 
Training Camps Association, a group of 
prominent New Yorkers who had served 
as officers in World War I, that the 
Burke-Wadsworth Selective Service Bill 
was introduced in Congress on 20 June. 
That same day the President named 
Henry L. Stimson, one of the associa- 
tion's members, Secretary of War. Roose- 
velt publicly endorsed the selective ser- 
vice measure on 10 July. Two days later 
General Marshall appeared before the 
Senate Military Affairs Committee to 
urge speedy passage of the Burke- 
Wadsworth bill and prompt action to 
federalize the National Guard. 14 For 
the first time in history, Congress had 
before it proposals to mobilize the 
nation's manpower in time of peace. 

The War Department confronted a 
situation it had not foreseen. For twenty 
years top military planners had assumed 
that a huge emergency construction 
effort would not again be necessary. But 
the crisis of 1940 compelled the Army 
to undertake an even larger building 
program than had U.S. entry into 
World War I. In 191 7 the Allies had 
held a stable front in France, their 
fleets had controlled the seas, and their 
factories had furnished munitions to 
American forces as well as to their own. 
Now German armies stood on the shores 
of the Atlantic, Britain was in jeopardy, 
and friendly nations were seeking arma- 
ments here. Moreover, mobilization oc- 
curred before this country's formal entry 

14 (1) Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 188-ga. (a) Sher- 
wood, Roosevelt and Hopkins, pp. 155-57. (3) Public 
Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1940, p. 
ago. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



115 



into World War II. This time the United 
States, largely on its own, had to out- 
strip Germany's arms production. This 
time, too, it had to maintain a sizable 
army for an indefinite period on Ameri- 
can soil. 15 

Early Preparations 

Even before the invasion of Denmark 
and Norway, preparations were under 
way for a large-scale building program. 
Early in March, a week or ten days 
after Hartman's return to Washington, 
the Chief of Staff sent for him. General 
Marshall wanted to know how long it 
would take to house 2,000,000 men. The 
record of the old Cantonment Division 
came readily to Hartman's mind. In 
1 91 7 there were virtually no plans to 
start with. Yet shelter for a million men 
was complete five months after work 
commenced. Hartman thought of the 
plans he had developed during the past 
six years — the organization charts, the 
studies and reports, the ideal layouts, 
and the mobilization drawings. Then 
he gave his answer. If he could know 
at once what units were to be housed 
and where, if he could get the money 
in May or June and begin work in July, 
the new Army could be sheltered before 
1 December. Marshall was merely seek- 
ing information he might need if and 
when mobilization did take place. But 
to Hartman this interview was the 
signal to get moving. 16 



16 See Stimson's statement, 24 Jul 40. In H Sub- 
comm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d sess, 
Hearings on Second Supplemental National Defense 
Appropriation Bill for ig 41, pp. 107-og. 

16 (1 ) Memo, Burns for Johnson, 30 Mar 40. 
ANMB 334 Comm Members and Min. (2) State- 
ment of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. a, 5-6, 10. 



His first step was to check the plans. 
Calling for the mobilization drawings, 
he made a startling discovery — during 
his stay in California, someone had 
altered the drawings. The size of the 
barracks had been reduced, roof de- 
signs had been cheapened, and studs 
had been more widely spaced. Plywood 
had been substituted for drop siding. 
The new structures would be cramped 
and weak. Some of the materials specified 
were scarce. In short, the drawings would 
not serve. The men who had helped with 
the original blueprints started immedi- 
ately to make another set. Colonel 
Hartman soon received an even ruder 
jolt. The remainder of his plans had 
disappeared. Though copies had once 
been on file with the Construction Divi- 
sion, The Quartermaster General, G— 4, 
and WPD, not one could now be found. 
Except for the Blossom report, which 
he had kept on his desk as a reference 
work these past twenty years, Hartman 
had practically no written word to 
guide him. 17 In charting a course for 
emergency construction, he had to rely 
primarily on his own judgment and the 
example of World War I. 

Alert to the need for sound construc- 
tion planning, Colonel Burns endeavored 
to help by bringing in men from industry. 
Through the Associated General Con- 
tractors, he obtained the names of several 
prominent men who might be available. 
One was John P. Hogan, president of 
the American Society of Civil Engineers. 
A colonel in the Engineer Reserve, Hogan 

17 ( 1 ) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. 2, 7. 
(2) Hartman's Testimony, 12 Aug 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 7, p. 2042. (3) Blossom's 
Testimony, 14 Feb 41. In H Comm on Mil Affs, 
77th Cong, 1st sess, Hearings, Inquiry as to National 
Defense Construction, p. 66. Cited hereinafter as May 
Comm Hearings. 



116 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



had served in France in World War I. 
As chief engineer of the New York 
W'orld's Fair of 1939, he had directed a 
$100 million construction program. Late 
in March, Maj. Leo J. Dillon, Burns' 
executive officer, conferred with Hogan 
in New York. The latter agreed to head 
a Construction Advisory Committee 
under the Army and Navy Munitions 
Board. During April Hogan and Dillon 
with Roosevelt's help recruited the 
following outstanding men, all of whom 
agreed to serve without pay: Stephen F. 
Voorhees, past president of the American 
Institute of Architects; Alonzo J. 
Hammond, president of the American 
Engineering Council; Malcolm Pirnie, 
general chairman of the Construction 
League of America; and, from the 
Associated General Contractors, Past 
President E. P. Palmer and Managing 
Director Harding. It was to take some 
time for the committee to get organized, 
and the first meeting did not take place 
until 20 May. 18 Meanwhile, plans for 
defense construction were shaping up 
rapidly. 

By late April the mobilization draw- 
ings had undergone a hasty overhauling. 
Working largely from memory, veteran 
employees of the Construction Division 
restored many of the original plans, 
which they then hastily revised. When 
completed, this latest version of the 
"700 series" incorporated blueprints for 
more than three hundred structures of 
various types and sizes. Included were 
drawings of barracks, mess halls, hos- 

18 ( 1 ) Interv, Troycr Anderson with Col Leo J. 
Dillon. Anderson File, Folder No. 4. (a) Memo, 
Burns for Johnson, 30 Mar 40. (3) Ltr, ANMB to 
Palmer, 15 Apr 40. (4) Memo, ANMB for ASW and 
ASN, 15 May 40. (5) Memo, ASN for the President, 
21 May 40. Last four in ANMB 334 Conun Members 
and Min. 



pitals, bakeries, and laundries; of store- 
houses, shops, and administration build- 
ings; and of recreation halls, post ex- 
changes, and theaters. There were also 
blueprints for roads and utilities and 
layouts for typical camps. While these 
plans resembled the "600 series" of 
World War I, there were marked differ- 
ences. The improved standard of living 
accounted for certain changes. Central 
heating had replaced stoves. Latrines 
were now inside the barracks rather 
than in separate buildings. Other changes 
resulted from motorization. The stable 
had given way to the garage, and road 
nets were more elaborate. 19 Secretary 
Stimson called attention to still another 
change-producing factor: 

In 191 7 the cantonments were intended 
to house troops for a shorter period .... We 
then knew that our troops were going to 
France and that much of their training would 
be overseas. There was then strong evidence 
that the contending forces in the war were 
nearing exhaustion and that, whatever way 
the decision went, the end was probably not 
far off. 

Today not only are we facing a most dan- 
gerous emergency but there is strong evidence 
that this emergency may be very prolonged. 20 

With this situation in mind, Hartman 
introduced more durable features into 
the plans. Two important changes were 
the substitution of concrete foundation 
piers for wooden posts and the addition 
of termite shields. Another, aimed at 
reducing maintenance costs, was the 
addition of canopies, or, as they were 
generally called, "aqua medias" or "eye- 



M ( 1 ) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. 
a, 7. (a) Report, Chief Construction Division, iffiS, p. 
•7ff- (3) QM Standard Mobilization Drawings, 1940-41, 
vols. I, II. 

"Stimson's Testimony, 15 Apr 41. In Truman 
Conun Hearings, Part 1, p. 6. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



117 



brows." 21 When Hitler attacked through 
the Low Countries, the Construction Di- 
vision had on hand drawings for quick, 
cheap, and serviceable camps — drawings 
that still lacked complete details but could 
nevertheless be made to do. 

Three days before the big German 
offensive, on 7 May, the G-4, General 
Moore, asked the division to compute 
the cost of sheltering 1,200,000 men. 
The estimating task fell to Major Nurse. 
It was a formidable assignment. Since 
sites were still unchosen, he could not 
forecast requirements for utilities, roads, 
and railroad spurs — all expensive items. 
How much clearing and grading would 
be necessary was any man's guess. The 
same was true of drainage. Wages and 
prices were certain to rise; the question 
was how far. And, while plans for typical 
buildings were now available, bills of 
materials were still in the writing. Using 
the records of the 1939 projects and 
such other information as he could 
gather, Nurse arrived at a figure of 
$800 per man for divisional cantonments. 
This was a rock-bottom estimate. Keep- 
ing within it would probably take con- 
siderable doing, but to ask for more was 
to invite refusal. Hartman checked the 
figures and double-checked them, as 
did Joseph A. Bayer of the Funds and 
Estimates Section. Then, the three men 
called on General Moore. 22 "When 
we presented our estimates," Bayer 
recalled, "he seemed shocked they were 

m Memo, OQMG War Plans and Tng Br for Red, 
1940. Opns Br Files, Misc Papers. 

a (i) Watson, Chief of Staff, pp. 166-67. 0») Ltr, 
Nurse to OCMH, 9 Mar 55. EHD files. (3) 1st Ind, 
a Dec 40, on Ltr, TAGO to TQMG, 16 Nov 40, sub : 
Statement of Status of Emergency Constr Funds. 
QM 600.1 (Funds) IX. (4) Hartman 's Testimony, 
1 a Aug 41. In Truman Comm Hearings, Part 7, pp. 
3045-48. (5) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, 
p. 8. 



so high. We felt that they were low and 
we did expect difficulty in accomplishing 
our mission with the moneys we had 
requested." 23 

Even at this late date, few in the 
General Staff recognized the need for 
an all-out construction effort. The hope 
persisted that large numbers of men 
might be housed in tents and existing 
buildings, that the experience of World 
War I need not be repeated. Describing 
the General Staffs attitude during the 
spring of 1940, General Gregory said: 
"In the original mobilization plans, you 
see, it was planned to call up a unit 
and put them in fairgrounds, tents, and 
buildings. They couldn't seem to get 
that out of their heads, to realize that 
they would need something more, that 
they would need some place in which 
to train successive groups of men." 24 
At a mid-May conference, General Mar- 
shall said that the shortage of shelter 
was "no serious obstacle" to the raising 
of a million men. 25 The Chief of Staff 
made no pretense of being an expert in 
logistics. As a matter of fact, he left 
logistical matters largely to General 
Moore. 28 

Confronted with Nurse's figures, the 
G— 4 refused categorically to entertain 
so high an estimate. Even assuming that 
divisional cantonments were to be built 
and that the 700 series plans would be 
followed — the General Staff had not yet 
finally accepted either proposition — the 
price was out of line, he said. Hartman 
emphatically disagreed, maintaining that 

53 Ltr, Bayer to authors, 4 Jul 55. 

M Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings, p. 15. 

"Notes of Conf in OCofS, ao May 40. OCS, 
Misc Confs, ao May-35 Sep 40. 

Interv with Lt Gen Leslie R. Groves, 19 
Jun 56. (a) Burns Interv, l\ May 56. 



118 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



the Quartermaster figure could only be 
trimmed by dropping desirable features, 
such as paved roads, theaters, and 
recreation halls. Judging from experi- 
ence, such action seemed inadvisable. 
Hartman pointed out that the camps of 
World War I had barely been started 
before demands arose for these and 
similar refinements. Moore nevertheless 
reduced the estimate to $650 per man 
by eliminating the "frills." Then, fearing 
that Congress would refuse even that 
amount, he slashed the figure again, 
this time to $400. Hartman, Nurse, and 
Gregory fought hard for a realistic esti- 
mate, but General Moore held firm. In 
the end The Quartermaster General got 
orders to use $400 per man as the basis 
of future requests. At the time, there 
was speculation as to whether Moore 
was acting on orders from above. 27 
Questioned about this later, he replied: 

I was responsible for cutting the estimates. 
It was contemplated at that time that all 
training was to take place in the South where 
tents could be used. The neutralism in Con- 
gress made it expedient to keep estimates as 
low as practicable. We asked for what we 
thought we could get. The estimates were 
checked with what it cost to build a construc- 
tion town at Fort Peck, Montana, per man, 
in 1934. 28 

In terms of the construction task 
ahead, Moore's figure was appallingly 
low. Before many days had passed, the 
General Staff accepted the fact that 
some divisional cantonments would in- 
deed be necessary. Shortly thereafter the 
Staff adopted the 700 series plans as 

"(0 Ltr, Nurse to OCMH, 9 Mar 55. EHD 
Files. (2) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 8. 
(3) Hartman's Testimony, 12 Aug 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 7, pp. 2046-48. (4) Groves 
Comments, I, 6. 

*• Replies to Questions, Incl with Ltr, Moore to 
EHD, 3 Jan 56. 



standard for emergency projects. Colonel 
Hartman tried to gauge how far $400 
per man would go. First he set aside 
$50 per man for utilities, a small sum 
but all that Moore would allow. Then 
he went down the list of facilities the 
G— 4 had approved, counting the cost of 
each. When the total reached $350, he 
drew a line. Above it were the bare 
essentials, barracks, mess halls, store- 
houses, hospitals, and temporary roads. 
This much and no more could be had 
within the limit imposed. Hartman was 
under no illusions that other features 
would not soon be added. Although he 
could not avoid a sizable deficit, he did 
hope to prevent the shortage of funds 
from hampering the building effort. 29 

When the Hogan committee met in 
Washington late in May, the draft of a 
fixed-fee contract was ready for review. 
Although the members suggested several 
changes, they approved the agreement 
and recommended its use. 30 Noting that 
work on detailed plans and specifications 
could not start until sites were picked, 
they reported to ANMB on 10 June: 
"Attempts to let competitive contracts 
without adequate contract drawings in- 
evitably result in confusion, delay, and 
increased costs over any other method 
. . . the first priority contracts should 
and must be done on a management 
basis." 31 The construction press echoed 



20 (1) Memo, Moore for Marshall, 28 May 40. 
G-4/3'753- ( 2 ) WD Ltr AG 600.12 (6-15-40) 
M-D-M, 15 Jun 40, sub: WD Gonstr Policy. G- 
4/31751. (3) Hartman's Testimony, 12 Aug 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 7, pp. 2046-48. (4) 
Constr Div Table, 17 Jun 40, Estimated Cost — 
Triangular Div, 8,083 Men. Opns Br Files, Misc 
Papers. 

30 Memo, Constr Adv Comm ANMB for ANMB, 31 
May 40. ANMB-MB 203.4-3.1. 

31 Rpt, Constr Adv Comm ANMB to ANMB, 
10 Jun 40. USW Files, 134 Constr. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



119 



the committee's views. Advocating use 
of fixed-fee contracts on emergency 
projects, the editors of the Engineering 
News-Record argued: 

Its advantages for the government lie in 
the speed with which work can be gotten 
underway, in flexibility of handling changes 
in plans, in increased efficiency through being 
able to work with the contractor as a partner, 
and finally in reduced cost by eliminating 
the necessary contingent items in a competi- 
tive bid. To the contractor the negotiated 
agreement offers freedom from uncertainty 
of labor rates, material prices, weather, and 
unforeseen difficulties. It also gives the con- 
tractor assurance of a profit. . . . Without 
question such a contract is the proper instru- 
ment for the job at hand. 32 

With these opinions, Colonel Hartman 
fully agreed. Moreover, from his stand- 
point, there was still another advantage. 
Fixed-fee contracts, unlike lump sum, 
could be let on the basis of "guess- 
timates." 

Toward the end of May, at Woodring's 
request, the chairmen of the Military 
Affairs Corrimittees, Senator Sheppard 
and Congressman Andrew J. May, in- 
troduced twin bills to authorize use of 
negotiated contracts in this country. 
Although the old law of 1861 permitted 
waiver of advertising in emergencies, 
Secretary Baker had been roundly criti- 
cized for invoking that authority in 191 7. 
This time the War Department sought 
congressional approval beforehand. The 
bills made good progress at first. The 
House took only three days to act on 
the proposal. But when the matter came 
before the Senate on 10 June, a hitch 
developed, as Senator McKellar offered 
an amendment to outlaw "what is 
known as the cost-plus system of con- 
tracting." Reminded "how much trouble 

M ENR, June 20, 1940, p. 51. 



was caused" by the contracts of World 
War I, the Senate agreed to the rider. 33 
On learning what had happened, Hart- 
man appealed through the Secretary of 
War to Senator Sheppard, who prom- 
ised to help. At Sheppard's urging the 
House and Senate conferees threw out 
the McKellar amendment and in its 
place adopted the following clause: 
"the cost-plus-a-percentage-of-cost sys- 
tem of contracting shall not be used 
. . . , but this proviso shall not be con- 
strued to prohibit the use of the cost- 
plus-a-fixed-fee form of contract when 
such use is deemed necessary by the 
Secretary of War." The Act of 2 July 
1940, which empowered the Secretary 
to let contracts "with or without adver- 
tising," contained this clause. 34 Hartman 
had crossed the congressional hurdle. 
He had still to convince his superiors that 
fixed-fee contracting was unavoidable. 

When the fixed-fee measure entered 
the legislative mill, the Hogan committee 
turned its attention to another aspect of 
the problem — the capacity of industry. 
Through the AGC the committee learned 
how many construction firms were avail- 
able and how much work they could 
handle. According to information fur- 
nished by Managing Director Harding, 
the nation had approximately 1 1 2,000 
contracting enterprises. Nearly 80,000 
functioned as subcontractors, while 
17,000 more were small general con- 
tractors whose business had amounted 
to less than $25,000 in 1939. Some 
10,000 firms were in the $25,000 to 
$100,000 bracket and 5,000 were in the 



33 86 Cong. Rec. 7841, 7843. 

M ( 1 ) Folder : Nat Def Expediting. Public Law, 
703, 2 Jul 40, 76th Gong. OCE Legal Lib. (2) Ltr, 
Woodring to Sheppard, 13 Jun 40. SW Secret Files, 
85 r -99°- (3) 54 Stat. 712. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 

Table 4 — Construction Workers in the United States, June 1940 



121 



Classification Number 



Total 2,627,157 

Masons 137,934 

Carpenters 697,479 

Electricians 266,880 

Engineers 58,091 

Painters 352,127 

Plasterers and cement finishers 73,120 

Plumbers and steam fitters 213,634 

Sheet metal workers 68,789 

Laborers, building 372,092 

Laborers, road and street 259,523 

Apprentices 40, 105 

Truck and tractor drivers 87,383 



Source: Report of the AGC to Constr Advisory Comm, ANMB, Jun 40, sub: Constr Workers in the 
Continental U.S. USW Files, 134 Constr. 

$100,000 to $1,000,000 category. At 
the top of the industrial pyramid were 
500 big concerns whose individual gross 
receipts had exceeded $1,000,000 during 
the previous year. As Harding pointed 
out, these statistics did not tell the whole 
story. Hit hard by the depression, the 
industry had not yet fully recovered. 
I (Chart ij| Allowing for some shrinkage 
during the lean years of the thirties, 
Harding estimated unused construction 
capacity at about $3 billion dollars. If, 
as he indicated, there was plenty of 
contracting talent available, the Army's 
job would be primarily one of choosing 
firms wisely and quickly putting them 
to work. 35 

A second industrial element, con- 
struction manpower, also came in for a 
good deal of study by the Hogan com- 
mittee. With eight million unemployed 
in the country, the supply of unskilled 
labor was for all practical purposes 

" Rpt, AGC for Constr Adv Comm AN MB, Jun 40, 
sub: Facil of the Constr Industry. USW Files, 134 
Constr. 



unlimited. But Hogan and his colleagues 
had reason to think that getting enough 
skilled workmen might be difficult. The 
industry, which had employed 3,340,000 
persons in 1929, offered jobs to only 
1,610,000 a decade later. The sensitivity 
of construction to changes in the business 
cycle had lessened its appeal for young 
men. Moreover, the unions, long domi- 
nated by a philosophy of job scarcity, 
had rigid entrance requirements. 1 * At 
the committee's request, the AGC took 
a census of construction workers. The 
count turned up 2,627,157 experienced 



workmen. (Table 4) This number might 
prove adequate, Chairman Hogan said, 
"provided all were usefully and advan- 
tageously used." He nevertheless pre- 
dicted trouble. The survey showed that 
three out of every five workers lived in 
the New England, Middle Atlantic, 
and Great Lakes States, far from the 
probable centers of emergency con- 
struction activity, the South, Midwest, 

3 °(i) Ibid, (a) Commerce and Labor Depta, 
Historical Statistics of the United States, pp. 63, 65. 



122 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



and Southwest. Furthermore, many 
skilled craftsmen had enrolled with WPA 
and might be unwilling to give up their 
relief status to take temporary defense 
jobs. Considered from the standpoint of 
productivity, the outlook was hardly 
brighter. Throughout most of the in- 
dustry, hand methods still prevailed. 
Union workmen were accustomed to a 
30-hour and nonunion to a 40-hour 
week. Under the circumstances, shortages 
were almost certain to develop. Con- 
tractors, pressed for speed, would com- 
pete for trained workmen. Wages would 
spiral and efficiency decline. Although 
he offered no solution, Hogan recom- 
mended that some means be found to 
prevent local shortages. "Otherwise," 
he warned, "we will only be repeating 
conditions that existed during the last 
World War, which were notorious." 37 
The committee also considered re- 
quirements for architects and engineers. 
At Hogan's suggestion, professional socie- 
ties began canvassing their members, 
115,000 in all, to find out how many 
would be free to take emergency assign- 
ments. The information was to be of 
great value. The immediate problem, 
however, was one of time. Reporting to 
the Munitions Board on the outlook for 
defense construction, the committee listed 
lack of detailed plans as "the principal 
bottleneck." 39 To fit typical blueprints 
to the sites, to lay out roads and utilities, 
and to complete contract and working 
drawings would, they said, take 20,000 
engineers, architects, and draftsmen a 
full year. Early projects would have to 



» 7 Ltr, Hogan to ANMB, 17 Jul 40. ANMB 334 
Comm Members and Min. 

J8 Rpt, Constr Adv Comm ANMB to ANMB, 
10 Jun 40, sub: Contract Drawings and Technical 
Pers. USW Files, 1 34 Constr. 



start with a minimum of plans, but for 
later ones thorough preparations could 
and should be made. The committee 
recommended that $15 million be 
granted at once for architectural and 
engineering services and that $35 million 
more be added later. In this way, they 
maintained, six months could be saved 
on the Army's long-term projects and 
one year cut from mobilization sched- 
ules. 39 The proposal was an excellent 
one. Unfortunately, Assistant Secretary 
Johnson did not act upon it. 

While accepting the committee's help, 
Colonel Hartman was consulting men 
more familiar with emergency construc- 
tion. During June various leaders of the 
old Construction Division of the Army 
showed up at the Munitions Building. 
Some came to volunteer their services, 
among them General "Puck" Marshall. 
Others came at Hartman' s invitation. A 
telephone call to Whitson brought both 
him and Gunby hurrying to the Capital, 
where they were joined by Gabriel R. 
Solomon and Frank E. Lamphere, 
Gunby' s successors in the old Engineer- 
ing Branch, W. A. Rogers of Bates & 
Rogers, and several more who had 
agreed to come to help their wartime 
buddy, "Baldy" Hartman, get started. 
Though most of them were now too old 
for active duty, these veterans were to 
serve their country again, this time in a 
different capacity. Forming an unofficial 
advisory board, they were soon furnish- 
ing valuable suggestions as to how to 
run the program. 40 



3 »Ltr, Hogan to ANMB, 10 Jun 40. USW Files, 
134 Constr. 

40 ( 1 ) Interv with Mrs. Pagan, 8 Mar 57 ; Gunby, 
15 Aug 56; Ferdinand J. C. Dresser, 2 Apr 57. 
(2) H. W. Loving, History of the Construction 
Division, OQMG (Apr 41). Loving Papers. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



123 



Much that Hartman did or attempted 
to do in the late spring and early sum- 
mer of 1940 reflected the World War I 
experience. In 1 g 1 7 the Army had had 
to use wood stave piping. With that 
fact in mind, he persuaded the foundries 
to start casting two thousand miles of 
iron pipe. He did this on his own initia- 
tive and with no funds in hand. Similar 
moves which needed War Department 
backing failed. Knowing that centralized 
procurement had worked well before, 
he asked Generals Moore and Marshall 
to help him obtain $50,000,000 from the 
Reconstruction Finance Corporation 
(RFC) for a lumber stockpile. They 
turned him down. Recalling that con- 
fused and slow-moving audits had occa- 
sionally handicapped the earlier effort, 
he appealed to Johnson for money to 
develop an accounting system for fixed- 
fee contracts. This, too, met refusal. To 
obviate the overcrowding and frequent 
moves that had plagued the wartime 
division, he proposed to erect temporary 
offices on the parking lot behind the 
Munitions Building. As Gregory recalled 
it, General Moore just "pooh-poohed" 
the idea. 41 It was with this kind of help 
from above that Hartman set out to 
build an emergency organization. 

Creating an Organization 

The Construction Division was un- 
equal to the task that confronted it. The 
organization Hartman had inherited 
from his predecessor was geared to the 
programs of the past. On the eve of the 
defense effort the Washington office 
consisted of three branches— New Con- 



struction, Real Estate, and Repairs and 
Utilities — and four independent sections 
— Legal, Administrative, Labor, and 
Funds and Estimates. Manning the 
division were 14 officers and 1,470 
civilians. Field operations were under 
the supervision of some 75 constructing 
quartermasters and 8 Vicinity offices. 
Field employees totaled 2,921. The or- 
ganization that had performed creditably 
for many years now required consid- 
erable strengthening. Needed were large 
numbers of officers — Hartman put the 
total at 3,500 — and a host of civilians. 
Needed, too, was an administrative 
framework capable of quick expansion, 42 
Recalling his struggles to bolster the 
Construction Division, Hartman said, 
"We in effect started from scratch." 43 

On 15 June he reorganized his office 
along the lines of the World War I 
division. 44 With the help of two execu- 
tives, Major Nurse and Maj. Mortimer 
B. Birdseye, Hartman planned to direct 
the defense program through eleven 
branches, eight of which would be new. 
(Chart 3) Heading the older units were 
long-time members of the division: Major 
Violante, Construction-Lump Sum (for- 
merly New Construction); Colonel Val- 
liant, Real Estate; and Major White, 
Repairs and Utilities. Mr. Bayer was a 
logical choice for the Funds and Esti- 
mates assignment. To head the Legal 
Branch, Hartman picked Maj. Homer 



41 ( 1 ) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. 6, 
7-8, 18. (a) Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory 
and Hastings, p. 9. 



«(i) Rpt, Constr Div to TQMG, 26 Nov 41, sub: 
Rpt on the Activities of the Constr Div, July 1 , 1 0,40, to 
November 1, 1941, pp. 90, 92. Cited hereinafter as, 
Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41. (a) 
Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 6. (3) 
Data prepared in EHD, List of Assignments of 
Constr Os. 

43 Truman Comm Hearings, Part 7, p. 2049. 

«(i) Constr Div OQMG Office Order 29 A, 15 
Jun 40. Q.M 020 (Constr) 1931-40. {2) Constr Div 
OQMG, Orgn Chart, 7 Oct 40. EHD Files. 




I !fi! 

1 s^i 

8 




-J 






i i 



£3= 
z 5 

8 5 






FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



125 



W. Jones, an attorney who, after serving 
many years in the Quartermaster Corps, 
had transferred in 1939 to The Judge 
Advocate's Department. A veteran 
Quartermaster supply officer, Lt. Col. 
Simon Jacobson brought a wealth of 
purchasing know-how to the new Pro- 
curement and Expediting group. Other 
branch chiefs came from private life. 
Burnside R. Value, a distinguished con- 
sulting engineer, headed Liaison; Oscar 
I. Koke, a prominent C.P.A., Auditing 
and Accounting. Ira F. Bennett, a top 
engineer at Charles T. Main and a 
lieutenant colonel in the Quartermaster 
Reserve, took charge of Administrative. 
Mr. Lamphere, who had won high praise 
for his recent work on the Pennsylvania 
Turnpike project, returned to his old 
position as chief of Engineering. For the 
Fixed Fee post, Colonel Whitson sug- 
gested Harry W. Loving, secretary of 
the Carolinas Branch of the AGC, who 
joined the Division in July. Seven of 
Hartman's key assistants — Nurse, Vio- 
lante, White, Jones, Koke, Bennett, and 
Lamphere — had served with Construc- 
tion in World War I. All were experts 
in their fields. 

An important adjunct to the division 
came into being in July. During June 
Hartman had stressed the need for a 
board of outstanding civilians who could, 
like the Starrett committee of World 
War I, assist in selecting firms for fixed- 
fee projects. Without contractors of high 
integrity and superior ability, the fixed- 
fee system would fail. Hartman insisted 
that applicants be judged on merit 
alone and that politics never be a factor. 
His first thought was to have either 
NDAC or the Hogan committee handle 
the work of selection. When both de- 
clined — they were not set up to do the 



job, they said — Hartman decided to go 
it alone. Early in July he formed the 
Construction Advisory Committee, 
OQMG, composed of Francis Blossom, 
Forrest S. Harvey, and Ferdinand J. C. 
Dresser. Blossom, a senior partner of 
the prominent New York firm of Sander- 
son & Porter, had received wide recog- 
nition for his work as chairman of the 
Board of Review of Construction in 1 9 1 9. 
Harvey, a veteran of the Construction 
Division of the Army, was a civil engi- 
neer of unusually broad experience. He 
came to the committee from Leeds, 
Hill, Barnard and Jewett of Los Angeles. 
Dresser, director of the American Con- 
struction Council and president of the 
Dresser Company of Cleveland, had 
served as a member of the National 
Board for Jurisdictional Awards, the 
now defunct "supreme court of the 
building industry." He had later held 
important posts in PWA. Since Blossom, 
the most distinguished member, was 
approaching seventy, the chairmanship 
went to Harvey. On 15 July General 
Gregory took the committee under his 
wing, making it directly responsible to 
him, and giving it a threefold mission: 
to serve as a point of contact with the 
construction industry; to collect and 
analyze data relating to architectural, 
engineering, and construction firms; and 
to advise Hartman in the choice of 
contractors for fixed-fee projects. 45 

To carry out their emergency assign- 
merit, Hartman and his principal assist- 
ants would need a large number of 
experienced helpers. The Washington 

4S ( 1 ) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. 
1 1 — 12. (2) Hartman's Testimony, 12 Aug 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 7, pp. 2043-44. (3) 
Draft of Memo, ASW for ASN, 3 Jul 40. {4) Memo, 
Gregory for ASW, 8 Jul 40. Last two in QM 600.1 
(CPFF) I. (5) OQMG Office Order 46, 15 Jul 40. 




staff would have to double in size. By 
early summer dozens of jobs were waiting 
for engineers, architects, draftsmen, 
lawyers, real estate men, and con- 
sultants of various sorts. The field had 
countless openings. Scores of projects 
would soon be starting up and every 
one of any size had to have a construct- 
ing quartermaster along with a crew of 
assistants. The proposed changeover to 
fixed-fee contracts would create work 
for a host of new employees, for these 
agreements, unlike fixed-price, de- 
manded meticulous government super- 
vision. Since the Army would, in effect, 
be paying the contractors' bills, the 
Comptroller General would insist on a 
thorough scrutiny of all expenditures. 
In order to safeguard the public interest, 
Hartman planned to put auditors, ac- 
countants, inspectors, timekeepers, and 
materials checkers on Quartermaster 
payrolls at fixed-fee projects. Together, 
the home office and the field would 



offer jobs to some 40,000 persons in the 
months to come. 46 Finding so many 
qualified people was to be immensely 
difficult. 

Public indifference, red tape, and 
failure of top officials to appreciate 
what he was up against hampered Hart- 
man's efforts. The mobilization of 1940 
evoked no such patriotic response as 
had the declaration of war in 191 7. 
Throughout the country an atmosphere 
of business-as-usual prevailed. And the 
construction business was, at long last, 
beginning to boom. Since a full colonel 
received about $6,000 in 1940 and Civil 
Service pay rates were correspondingly 
low, men needed a strong sense of civic 
duty to leave prospering firms or high- 
salaried jobs and take service with the 
Constructing Quartermaster General. 
Some were willing to make the sacrifice. 
But many of those who offered to help 

48 Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41, pp. 
90-93. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



127 



found their way barred by rules suited 
rather to peacetime conditions than to a 
crisis that was bordering on war. The 
Army stuck, for the most part, to the 
letter of its regulations. The Civil Serv- 
ice Commission was slow to change its 
procedures. With adequate topside sup- 
port, Hartman might have surmounted 
some of these obstacles. Such support 
was not forthcoming. 

A drive for recruits was under way 
before the fall of France. Late in May 
Hartman summoned Major Thomas, 
then constructing quartermaster at Hill 
Field, Utah, back to Washington to help. 
A short time later August G. Sperl, 
another alumnus of the wartime division, 
was called down from New York. He 
arrived to find Major Thomas run 
ragged. Applications from contractors 
were pouring in and there was as yet 
no one else to handle them. The entire 
division was swamped with work. Re- 
porting to Hartman, Sperl got orders to 
start organizing. Men were needed at 
once. It was up to him to get them. 
Assured of Hartman's backing, Sperl 
rounded up some more old-timers and 
got down to business. Hard-pressed 
though he was, Major Thomas found 
time to give advice and direction. In 
mid-June the call went out to professional 
societies, contracting firms, and colleges 
and universities: "Send us men." Con- 
sidering the temper of the times, the 
response was good. During the next few 
weeks, some 1,600 construction men 
offered their services. 47 

Military custom decreed that positions 
of authority be held by officers. As a 
rule, only men in the chain of command 

17 (i ) Loving, History of the Constr Div. (2) Sperl 
Interv, 18 Jun 56. (3) Statement of Maj Maurice W. 
Cochran, QMC, 28 May 41. Opns Br Files, Confs. 



made decisions and issued orders. That 
was the Army system. To keep within 
it would not be easy. Of the 824 Quar- 
termaster Regulars on active duty in 
June 1940, barely more than 100 were 
experienced in construction work. The 
division had no Reserve of its own, and 
although the parent corps had a sizable 
one of 6,249 officers, few of them were 
engineers or builders. Colonel Hartman 
considered three methods of getting 
additional officers: one, obtaining Regu- 
lars from other branches of the Army; 
two, tapping the Reserves of other 
branches; and, three, commissioning men 
from civil life. The first held little prom- 
ise. An early request to General Schley 
for the loan of fifty officers was refused 
on the grounds that the Corps of Engi- 
neers was already stretched too thin, 
and the Chief of Staff declined to inter- 
cede on the Quartermaster's behalf. Of 
the remaining possibilities, the second 
method offered easiest access to large 
numbers of officers; the third, the surest 
means of obtaining competent pro- 
fessionals. 48 

Begun in May, the quest for Reservists 
was at first unsuccessful. The Quarter- 
master General and the Assistant Chief 
of Staff, G—i, were unable to provide 
lists of Reserve officers qualified for 
construction assignments. Neither could 
the corps area commanders. Moreover, 
not until Congress acted, as it did four 
months later, could Reservists be forced 
to come on active duty. Drawing on his 
own acquaintance among construction 
men, Hartman lined up a number ol 
experienced officers but then had diffi- 
culty getting them appointed. Other 

48 ( 1 ) Report of the Secretary of War to the President, 
ig$o, pp. 26, 41. (2) Groves Interv, 19 Jun 56. (3) 
Groves Comments, IV, 2-3. 



128 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



branches had prior right to many of 
these men, a right they were unwilling 
to surrender. The Adjutant General 
ruled that men past fifty would not be 
called to active service. The Surgeon 
General listed flat feet, false teeth, glasses, 
high blood pressure, and overweight as 
grounds for rejection. Yet because the 
depression years, with their crippling 
effect on the industry, had produced 
few construction specialists, most of the 
men who were best equipped to do the 
job at hand were of the older genera- 
tion. To make matters worse, The Adju- 
tant General barred members of the 
inactive Reserve, a group that included 
many outstanding professionals who had 
been too busy with civilian work, to take 
time for training. Deprived of men he 
badly wanted, Hartman asked to have 
the rules relaxed. He argued that age, 
physical condition, and military experi- 
ence had little bearing on the suitability 
of officers for desk jobs. Still, The Ad- 
jutant and Surgeon Generals refused to 
take men who might be unacquainted 
with military customs or who might 
later claim pensions and disability pay. 
Even when men turned up who met the 
War Department's requirements, it took 
a long time for their orders to go through. 
Flooded with emergency requests, The 
Adjutant General's Office was fast be- 
coming an almost impassable bottle- 
neck.* 9 

On 22 June Hartman appealed to 
the corps areas for help. In a radiogram 
he asked the nine commanding generals 
to circularize all Reserve officers and 



« (i) Memo, OQMG for TAG, ao May 40. QM 
210.312 1940. (2) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 
55> P- 7- (3) Memo, Maj Sidney P. Simpson, OASW, 
for ASW, 19 Sep 40. QM 022 (Constr Div). (4) Rpt, 
Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41, p. 89. 



invite those with construction experience 
to apply to The Quartermaster General. 
The plan was to have qualified Reserv- 
ists called to duty not by The Adjutant 
General but by the corps area com- 
manders, who would then detail or 
transfer the men to the Quartermaster 
Corps. Hartman would thus be able to 
get around some of the difficulties that 
delayed appointments by the War De- 
partment. The commanders were co- 
operative. Soon Sperl was working night 
and day poring over the papers of some 
6,000 applicants. Meanwhile, Gregory 
persuaded Marshall to give him priority 
on all Reservists, regardless of branch. 
Hartman might now enlist any member 
of the active Reserve who could pass a 
physical examination and was willing 
to serve. Although a large percentage 
of the volunteers were not full-fledged 
construction men, the arrangement with 
the corps areas did enable the division 
to obtain a number of highly qualified 
officers whose subsequent record of per- 
formance was outstanding. It also saved 
valuable time that would have been 
lost in awaiting action by The Adjutant 
General. 50 

Even with the influx of Reservists, 
the demand for officers far exceeded the 
supply. In mid-July 1940 the Construc- 
tion Division had 200 vacancies — 10 for 
colonels, 50 for lieutenant colonels, 105 
for majors, and 35 for captains — and 
700 more openings were about to ma- 
terialize. Writing to The Adjutant Gen- 
eral on the 1 8th, General Gregory 
indicated that it might soon be neces- 
sary to commission men from civil life. 

M (i) Ltr, Hartman to TAG, 22 Jun 40. QM 
326.21. (2) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 
17. (3) Statement of Maj Cochran, 28 May 41. 
(4) Ltr, Gregory to TAG, 19 Jul 40. QM 326.21. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



129 



As a matter of fact, Colonel Hartman 
was already moving in that direction. 
From among the civilians whose appli- 
cations were on file he had selected 
sixty who were well qualified by experi- 
ence and training to head construction 
projects. These men became the first 
candidates for direct commissions, many 
in the coveted grades of colonel and 
lieutenant colonel. But Hartman had 
reckoned without the Reserve Officers 
Association, which stepped in to demand 
that its members get preference over 
civilians. He had also reckoned without 
Stimson and Marshall, who, in contrast 
to their opposite numbers in the Navy 
Department, were reluctant to grant 
direct commissions. 51 "We would have 
a good man we wanted to commission," 
General Gregory related. "They would 
refuse to do it at the General Staff. Mr. 
Stimson would say that he would have 
to go to camp first. Then the Navy 
would make him a lieutenant com- 
mander right off the bat." 52 Thus, 
Hartman lost the services of many of 
the best men available. 

Similar difficulties attended the hiring 
of civilians. Just as Army regulations 
limited the choice of officers, so Civil 
Service rules restricted employment. 
Wishing to preserve its usual standards 
of selection, the Civil Service Com- 
mission adhered closely to the customary 
formalities. Hartman was seeking to put 
through appointments in twenty-four 
hours. Yet one step in the Civil Service 
procedure took anywhere from one week 
to two months; another, from two weeks 

61 (r) Ltr, Gregory to TAG, 18 Jul 40. QM 
326.21. (a) Statement of Maj Cochran, 28 May 41. 
(3) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41, 
P. 8 9 - 

42 Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings, p. 20. 



to three months; a third, about a fort- 
night. During the seemingly intermin- 
able wait, many good prospects gave 
up in disgust and took other jobs. 63 
Equally distressing to Hartman was the 
commission's insistence that he draw 
personnel from its lists of eligibles: 

The Civil Service rosters contained many 
misfits who had lost their positions due to 
the depression [he later wrote]. A substantial 
number of these did not live in the Washing- 
ton area. We found they did not have the 
money to travel to Washington for an inter- 
view and a heavy percentage were not quali- 
fied for our undertaking. 54 

An early report from Fort Ord, Cali- 
fornia, forecast trouble in the field. The 
constructing quartermaster at Ord had 
asked the local Civil Service office to 
furnish him with high-grade administra- 
tive and technical personnel. The reg- 
isters had yielded one draftsman, one 
engineering aide, two clerks, and four 
laborers. 55 

Anticipating difficulties of this sort, 
Hartman had started early to make 
arrangements for hiring his own top- 
level personnel. At his request, Congress 
had on 2 July enacted legislation em- 
powering the Secretary of War to "auth- 
orize the employment of supervising or 
construction engineers without regard 
to the requirements of civil-service laws, 
rules, or regulations." 66 Hartman hoped 
to get a sizable number of building 
experts on the payroll quickly. He 
intended to place some of them under 



63 (1) Ltr, Gregory to Dir of Pers WD, 26 Jun 40. 
QM 020 (Constr Div, etc.). (2) Memo, Hartman for 
Gregory, 27 Jun 40. QM 230.14 (Misc) 1940. (3) 
4330 (Nat Def) Part 1. 

64 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 7, 

65 Ltr, CQM Ft Ord to TQMG, 25 Jul 40. QM 652 
(Ft Ord) I. 

68 54 Stat. 712. 



130 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



bond and put them in complete charge 
of projects. 67 But this was not to be, for 
the President opposed the plan. On 9 
July the White House asked Acting 
Secretary Johnson to tell appointing 
officers "that no employments should be 
made under this exemption until after 
consultation is had with the Civil Service 
Commission to ascertain its ability to 
handle the recruiting problems in- 
volved." 88 Two days later Stimson gave 
Gregory his orders. Hartman was not 
to go outside the Civil Service structure 
without the commission's leave. The 
legislation may nevertheless have served 
to strengthen Hartman's hand, for the 
Commission now displayed a somewhat 
greater willingness to relax its regula- 
tions. Personnel for the Washington 
office no longer had to come from lists 
of eligibles. Although employment in 
the field continued slow, appointments 
to Hartman's immediate staff began 
going through more rapidly. 59 

The construction ranks swelled grad- 
ually, and by August 1940 the small 
central office was filled to overflowing. 
Reinforcements were coming from all 
parts of the country. Many competent 
technicians responded to the call of 
old-timers like Colonel Whitson, who 
worked zealously to round up qualified 
men. Some of the newcomers persuaded 
friends and associates to join them, and 
these, in turn, persuaded others. A 
sizable group of experts transferred from 

67 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 7. 

68 Ltr, Admin Asst to the President to Acting SW, 
9 Jul 40. QM 230.14 (Policies, Precedents, etc.) 
1940-43. 

w ( 1 ) Memo, Stimson for Gregory, 1 1 Jul 40. 
(2) CSC Circ Ltr 2959, 18 Jul 40. Both in QM 230.14 
(Policies, Precedents, etc.) 1940-42. (3) CSC Circ 
Ltr 2990, 13 Aug 40. 4330 (Nat Def) Part 1. (4) 
Notes of Conf in OCofS, 2 Aug 40. OCS, Misc 
Confe, 5 May-25 Sep 40. 



PWA, which was going out of existence. 
Meanwhile, the professional societies 
kept a steady stream of applications 
coming. On the whole, the new civilians 
were well suited for their tasks. As a 
group the new officers left more to be 
desired. The supply of qualified Reserv- 
ists had run out all too soon. Unable to 
obtain officers from other sources, Hart- 
man dipped more deeply into the Re- 
serve. With the big push in construction 
about to begin, he took the only ex- 
pedient course accepting men who were 
available without quibbling over their 
qualifications. One of Loving's assistants 
afterward estimated that only four out 
of every ten new officers had the neces- 
sary background. This lack of experience 
was in part offset by training. Major 
Thomas established a school for Con- 
structing Quartermasters, which Re- 
servists had to attend before they went 
to the field. 60 

By late summer Hartman and his 
colleagues had put together a serviceable 
organization. In the months to come 
they would direct their efforts toward 
expanding and perfecting it. 

Site Selection 

As Chief of Construction, Hartman 
had a vital interest in the location of 
facilities to house, train, and supply the 
expanding Army. If mobilization objec- 
tives were to be met — if a citizen army 
were to be quickly raised, the Air Corps 
speedily enlarged, and a munitions in- 
dustry created within a year or eighteen 



,0 (i) Loving, Hist of the Constr Div, (2) Intervs 
with Col Elmer E. Kirkpatrick, Jr., and Mr. Gavin 
Hadden, 4 Apr 51 ; Sperl Interv, 18 Jun 56; Thomas 
Interv, 27 Dec 55. (3) Memo, Hartman for John J. 
McCloy, OASW, 2 Dec 40. QM 210.312. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



131 



months — and if the cost were not to be 
exorbitant, building sites must lend 
themselves to rapid and economical 
construction. Climate, terrain, vegeta- 
tion, soil, subsurface conditions, and 
the availability of transportation, utili- 
ties, labor, and materials would to a 
large extent determine both the rate of 
progress and the final cost. And if 
acquisition were not to be a stumbling 
block, sites must be readily obtainable. 
Balky owners and uncertain titles would 
force the Quartermaster Corps to take 
legal action before it could get possession 
of the land. Even so, Hartman's role in 
choosing new locations was often that 
of a bystander. 

Military considerations were of first 
importance in deciding where to build. 
Troops and planes must guard the coasts 
against invasion. Divisions must train in 
varied climates, some in the North 
where they could accustom themselves 
to the rigors of winter weather, some 
in the South where long summers and 
vast acreage made uninterrupted train- 
ing and extended maneuvers possible. 
Pilot instruction must be carried on 
where weather permitted flying the year 
round. The munitions industry must be 
placed well inland, away from likely 
areas of attack, and plants must be 
located where conditions favored maxi- 
mum production. 

But the Army was not free to choose 
locations for purely military reasons. In 
virtually no other area of defense ac- 
tivity did it feel the pull of so many 
diverse interests. Establishment of hun- 
dreds of new military installations and 
transfer of large tracts of land from 
private to public ownership had wide 
significance. The War Department's 
choice of sites might mean financial 



prosperity to communities and indi- 
viduals — or substantial sacrifice. Many 
cities entered strong bids for defense 
projects, while some fought desperately to 
keep the Army out. Nor was military 
site selection without political and social 
implications. The situation presented 
Senators and Representatives, as well as 
local officials, with an opportunity to 
promote the welfare of their constituents. 
On 31 May 1940 an Oklahoma Con- 
gressman told his fellow members of 
the House Appropriations Committee: 
"I am enthusiastically supporting 
the President's billion-dollar program 
and I am going to insist that 
at least one of these bases be established 
in Oklahoma." 61 Such statements were 
by no means uncommon. The program 
also opened a way for the Roosevelt 
administration to spur recovery by 
locating plants in distressed areas. 62 
The Army received many demands for 
special consideration which were some- 
times too strong to be ignored. 

Front runner in the race for sites was 
the Air Corps. Late in May, while 
Congress was considering a proposal to 
train 7,000 pilots a year, General Arnold 
submitted to the General Staff a plan 
for establishing three large Air Corps 
training centers. The first, the Southeast, 
was to consist of Maxwell, Barksdale, 
and Eglin Fields, and a new station in 
Alabama. The second, the Gulf Coast, 
was to include Randolph, Brooks, and 
Kelly Fields, and two new stations in 
Texas. The third, the West Coast, was 
to be made up of Moffett Field and a 
new station in California. The Staff 



61 H Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d sess, Hearings 
on Senate Amendment! to Military Establishment Appropria- 
tion Bill /or iQ4i, p. 69. 

si Minutes of the NDAC, pp. 2, 16. 



132 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Barksdale Field, Louisiana, in Late 1930's 



approved the plan on 6 June, and on 
the 1 3th, the same day that funds became 
available, Arnold convened a site board 
composed entirely of air officers. After a 
cursory investigation, the board recom- 
mended new flying schools at the 
municipal airports at Montgomery, 
Alabama, and Stockton, California, old 
Ellington Field (a World War I flying 
field near Houston), and an unimproved 
site at San Angelo, Texas. They sug- 
gested placing a fifth school near Selma, 
Alabama. 63 Arnold promptly sent the 
board's report to the General Staff, 
where it got a mixed reception. The 
Air Corps had acted with great dis- 



patch; no one questioned that. But, 
according to General Moore, the Staff 
was "somewhat embarrassed by the 
lack of detail furnished." While advising 
Marshall to accept the board's selections, 
the G-4 warned: "A great deal of basic 
information had to be taken for granted 
in the hurry to institute these projects. 
The system followed is eventually certain 
to result in the selection of some localities 
which may be regretted at a later date." 
On 3 July Moore and Marshall agreed 
that sites for Air Corps projects should 
be picked by War Department boards, 
appointed by the General Staff. 64 

By this time Arnold had formed 



M (i) 1st Ind, 28 May 40, on DS, Moore for 
Arnold, 24 May 40. G—4/30552-4. (2) Craven and 
Gate, Men and Planes, pp. 131-32. 



M Memo, Moore for Marshall, 28 Jun 40, and 
Concurrence thereon. AG 580 (7-12-40) (1) Sec I 
(Misc). 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



133 



another board to select locations for the 
tactical units to be pulled out of Max- 
well, Barksdale, and Moffett Fields and 
for the additional combat groups author- 
ized by the supplemental appropriation 
of 26 June. The Air Corps board was 
short-lived. On 12 July General Moore 
named three War Department site 
boards, one for the East, one for the 
South, and one for the Pacific coast. 
Each had a Quartermaster representa- 
tive and an airman along with a General 
Staff" officer who served as president. 
Barely a week passed before the boards 
were out inspecting municipal airports. 
Acting on instructions from G-4, the 
members checked each place to see 
what technical facilities, what utilities, 
and how many acres of land were avail- 
able and what additional construction 
would be necessary. They also noted 
the distance to population centers and 
surveyed housing, recreation, and public 
transportation facilities. Finally, they 
ascertained whether the field could be 
leased and on what terms. 65 

Finding fields for the Air Corps 
proved to be a relatively simple task. 
News that the War Department planned 
to develop civil airports brought an 
enthusiastic response from hundreds of 
cities. The site boards were warmly 
received everywhere they went. Most of 
the cities they visited offered to lease 
municipal fields for one dollar a year 
and to extend water and power lines. 
Many pledged land adjacent to the 
airports. Some went still further. The 
city of Albuquerque promised to build 
two new runways. Manchester, New 



,6 (i) Craven and Cate, Men and Planes, p. 134. 

(2) Memo, Moore for TAG, 12 Jul 40. G—4/31809. 

(3) Memo, G-3 for TAG, 15 Jul 40. AG 580 (7-1 a- 
40) (1) Sec I (Misc). 



Hampshire, and Spokane, Washington, 
promised to improve their fields. Fort 
Wayne, Indiana, agreed to sponsor a 
housing project for officers and their 
families. With so many inviting pros- 
pects, the boards had little trouble 
filling their quotas. During the first 
week in August they recommended no 
fewer than six sites to the War Depart- 
ment. Even so, General Arnold was 
sharply critical of their progress. Dis- 
playing characteristic impatience, he 
began early in August to demand more 
speed. On the 6th The Adjutant General 
wired the boards to expedite their 
work, but when Arnold continued to 
complain, G-4 countered with the al- 
legation that such lags as were occurring 
could be traced to the Air Corps itself. 66 
Lt. Col. Vincent Meyer, the Acting 
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-4, writing to 
General Moore, who had recently be- 
come Marshall's Deputy, explained: 

The greatest delay in all of this procedure 
of getting out the construction orders for the 
Air Corps stations is the inability of G-4 to 
get accurate data as to what units are 
going where. ... it has been nec- 
essary to change every program that 
we have so far issued that relates to the 
Air Corps , because of inaccurate 

or inadequate information from the office of 
the Chief of the Air Corps. 67 

Arnold's protests thus served not only 
to put more pressure on the boards but 
also to spotlight bottlenecks in his own 
office. By 17 August the Air Corps and 
the General Staff had agreed on a tenta- 
tive station list, and in mid-September 



66 (1) See 686 Part i for the following fields: 
Kirkland, Geiger, Grenier, Baer, Gowen, Harding, 
Paine, and Morris. (2) G-4/31809. 

67 Memo, Meyer for Moore, 8 Aug 40. G— 4/3 1 809. 



134 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



directives went out for construction at 
twenty-four fields. 68 By selecting munici- 
pal airports, the Army had saved consid- 
erable time and expense and, at the 
same time, satisfied demands of twenty- 
four cities for defense projects. It had 
also avoided the multiplicity of problems 
that attended the location of facilities 
which were to be built from the ground 
up. 

Of the thirty-five manufacturing 
plants in the first industrial program, 
all but six were to be on new sites. Thus 
the War Department had to find twenty- 
nine tracts for its munitions projects. 69 
The Army's industrial services, prin- 
cipally Ordnance and Chemical Warfare, 
had long been studying problems of 
plant location and knew in general 
where they wanted to put new produc- 
tion and what factors they wished to 
consider in picking individual sites. The 
Ordnance Department had in 1938 and 
1939 actually chosen sites for two smoke- 
less powder plants, one near Charles- 
town, Indiana, the other, at Radford, 
Virginia. Also exemplifying this type 
of planning were surveys conducted by 
the Chemical Warfare Service, seeking 
inland locations for manufacturing war 
chemicals and equipment. But selection 
of plant sites was not left to the using 
services alone. Final decision in every 
case awaited concurrence of other in- 
terested parties, the President, the 
NDAC, the Assistant Secretary of War, 



88 (r) Graven and Cate, Men and Planes, pp. 134- 
35. (2) 686-K. (3) 0-4/30552-4. 

89 Based on Constr Div OQMG, Constr Progress 
Rpt 15, g Apr 41, pp. 72-73, 78. EHD Files. Issued 
periodically, Construction Progress Reports are 
cited hereinafter as Constr PR's. 



and the industrialists who would run 
the plants. 70 

As plans matured for a government- 
owned, privately operated munitions 
industry, the question — where to build 
— required a definite answer. On 25 
June Acting Secretary Johnson appointed 
a 6-man War Department Site Com- 
mittee. Three of its members, including 
the chairman, Col. Harry K. Ruther- 
ford, director of the Planning Branch, 
OASW, were Ordnance officers. A repre- 
sentative of the Air Corps, a General 
Staff officer, and Colonel Hartman 
completed the membership. Johnson 
asked the committee to establish criteria 
for choosing plant sites. His instructions 
were: disperse plants so that an attack 
will not seriously cripple production; 
keep out of highly developed industrial 
areas; and pay close attention to the 
technical, production, and transportation 
requirements of individual plants. 71 
Rutherford and his colleagues promptly 
set to work. 

Within two weeks they had drawn 
the boundaries of the new munitions 
industry. As long ago as 191 5 the War 
College Division of the General Staff 
had recommended that "as a general 
military principle, no supply depot, 
arsenal, or manufacturing plant of any 
considerable size . . . should be 
established or maintained east of the 
Appalachian Mountains, west of the 



70 (1) Compl Rpt, Indiana OW, 6 Nov 42, pp. 15, 
5. EHD Files. (2) Memo, OASW for Moore, 1 Apr 
40. G— 4/30552 1939-40. (3) H Comm on Appns, 
75th Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on Military Establishment 
Appropriation Bill, 1939, p. 385. (4) Memo, OCofOrd 
for OUSW", 26 May 4 r. USW Files, Legis— H and S 
Investigating Comm 1. 

71 Ltr, Johnson to Rutherford, 25 Jun 40. EHD 
Files. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



135 



Cascade or Sierra Nevada Mountains, 
nor within 200 miles of our Canadian 
or Mexican borders." 72 As the range 
of aircraft increased, the need for such 
a policy became strikingly apparent. 
The Rutherford group agreed that 
plants must be located between the 
Appalachians and the Rockies within 
a zone roughly two hundred miles from 
the nation's borders. Networks of related 
factories were to be placed in five 
general areas within the eastern portion 
of this 



zone. 



(Map 1) The committee 
planned a well-integrated industry cen- 
tered in the Middle West. Turning to 
the matter of specific locations, it urged 
careful study of conditions which might 
affect construction and maintenance. 
Rutherford left the initial choice of sites 
to the using services; he nevertheless 
reserved the right to veto their selec- 
tions. 73 

Ordnance, as the service sponsoring 
the largest number of new plants, was 
responsible for selecting most of the 
sites. Its primary aim was greatest pro- 
duction at lowest cost. Rutherford's 
committee furnished site investigators 
with a checklist including, among other 
points, the availability of water, power, 
fuel, transportation, labor, and ma- 
terials. 74 General Wesson and his assist- 
ants did not rely entirely on their own 
judgment but continued the long-estab- 



72 Rpt, War College Div to SW, 1 1 Sep 15, p. 60. 
Quoted in S Comm on Mil Affs, 76th Cong, 1st sess, 
Hearings on H R 3791, p. 28. 

74 ( 1 ) Memo, with Incls, WD Site Comm for 
Johnson, 8 Jul 40. EHD Files, (a) For a detailed 
discussion of the role of strategy in site selection, 
see the excellent article by Edgar M. Hoover, Jr., 
and Glenn E. McLaughlin, "Strategic Factors in 
Plant Location," Harvard Business Review, Winter 

'942. PP- I33-40- 

74 Memo, Rutherford for Wesson, 2a Jul 40. EHD 
Files. 



lished practice of consulting such firms as 
DuPont and Hercules. These companies, 
as well as others chosen to be operators, 
played a large part in deciding where to 
locate the new plants. Indeed, one 
Ordnance officer said that his depart- 
ment "never selected a site" without the 
assent of the operator. 76 Both Ordnance 
and industry believed that quantity 
production could be achieved most 
quickly if plants were near centers of 
industrial activity. As Brig. Gen. Charles 
T. Harris, Jr., chief of the Ordnance 
Industrial Service, put it, "The general 
consideration was to locate the plants 
conforming to the . . . pattern of 
existing industry." 76 

The course taken by Ordnance ran 
counter to the aims of the President's 
Advisory Commission. Ralph Budd and 
Chester C. Davis, the advisers on trans- 
portation and farm products, fought for 
a decentralized munitions industry in 
order to balance regional economic 
development and help nonindustrial 
areas in the South and West. Sidney 
Hillman, who hoped to create more 
jobs in depressed areas, often joined 
forces with Davis and Budd. These men 
found their efforts balked by the War 
Department's insistence on speed. Be- 
cause requests for approval of sites were 
generally coupled with warnings that 
delay would endanger national security, 
the NDAC felt obliged to do what the 
Army asked. Not until December did 
the commission take a firmer stand. 
Then it served notice that it would 
"not . . . accept in the future the 
arguments of speed and pressure as the 



76 Min of Mtg in Gen Harris' Office, 12 Feb 41, 
p. 15. USW Files, 185.6 (Mun OP Comm). 

76 Memo, Harris et id. for USW, is Feb 41. 
Madigan Files, 101.6 (Gen Corresp). 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



137 



controlling reasons for approving plant 
sites." 77 The commission acted too late. 
By December sites for nearly all the 
early munitions projects had been chosen. 

The War Department's refusal to 
adopt the Advisory Commission's views 
left the using services in control. Pro- 
duction and transportation thus became 
the decisive factors in the location of 
industrial projects. The early ammonia 
plants, Morgantown and Ohio River, 
were near the coal fields of West Virginia 
and Kentucky, where coke, the key 
ingredient, was readily available. Since 
oleum was the chief component of 
TNT, the first plants for the manu- 
facture of that explosive, Kankakee, 
Weldon Spring, and Plum Brook, were 
near the heavy acid industries of Chicago, 
St. Louis, and Cleveland. Smokeless 
powder factories, which required large 
quantities of water, were alongside rivers. 
Radford was on the New River, the 
Alabama Ordnance Works was on the 
Coosa, and the Indiana plant was on 
the Ohio. The location of TNT and 
powder factories determined the location 
of loading plants. For example, Elwood, 
a shell loader, adjoined Kankakee, and 
New River, a bag loader, was seven 
miles from Radford. Because a good 
deal of manpower would be needed in 
their operation, the original small arms 
ammunition plants were put just outside 
St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver. In 
locating several types of facilities, safety 
was a vital consideration. Units for 
making, loading, and storing explosives 
had to be dispersed over large tracts so 
that an explosion would not trigger a 
chain reaction. Hence, the Ravenna 



77 Minutes of the NDAC, pp. 38, 49, 2, 112, 122. 



shell loading plant required over 22,200 
acres and Kankakee, 21,000." 

Despite the fact that the Quarter- 
master Corps played no major role in 
selecting industrial sites, places picked 
by the using services generally met con- 
struction standards reasonably well. 
There were engineering problems, to be 
sure. Subsurface rock and poor natural 
drainage threatened to complicate the 
building of the Indiana Ordnance 
Works. Unfavorable terrain spelled 
trouble ahead at the New River bag 
loading plant. The difficulty of removing 
three large pipelines that ran beneath 
the Kankakee-Elwood tract caused Gen- 
eral Harris to remark that the Joliet, 
Illinois, site was "the greatest mistake 
we made." 79 Yet, serious errors were 
relatively few. Level, well-drained sites, 
having access to adequate labor and 
transportation, were essential to both 
builder and user. Because the new 
munitions industry would be centered 
in the rich Midwestern agricultural and 
manufacturing region, most of the 
Quartermaster's troubles were in acquir- 
ing the land rather than in building on 
it. 

Just as Ordnance and Chemical War- 
fare decided questions of plant location, 
so the General Staff controlled the 
choice of camp sites. In the late spring 
of 1940, as plans went forward for 
mobilization, the Staff considered how 
to group and where to train a force of 
1,200,000 men. General Marshall de- 



78 (1) Gustavus G. Williamson, Jr., Industrial 
Site Selection (MS), pp. 6-24. EHD Files. (2) 
Constr Div OQMG, Real Estate Branch Progress 
Report, 21 Jul 41, pp. 15-16. Issued periodically, Real 
Estate Branch Progress Reports are cited hereinafter 
as Real Estate PR's. EHD Files. 

79 Min of Mtg in Gen Harris' Office, 12 Feb 41, p. 
12. 



138 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



cided to set up divisional camps and 
cantonments and to build a network of 
reception and training centers. Troops 
would be trained in all nine corps areas, 
and divisions would be placed so that 
they could readily form corps and 
armies. Adhering closely to the Protec- 
tive Mobilization Plan, Marshall pro- 
posed to save time and money by 
expanding old posts before establishing 
new ones and, if additional stations were 
needed, to build on federal- and state- 
owned land. Having affirmed this policy, 
he left the rest to G— 3 and G-4. Re- 
sponsible for molding draftees, Guards- 
men, and Regulars into an effective 
fighting force, Brig. Gen. Frank M. 
Andrews, the Assistant Chief of Staff, 
G— 3, was interested primarily in sites 
that offered training advantages. Such 
features as large acreage, varied terrain, 
streams for bridging exercises, and ob- 
servation points for artillery practice 
were high on his list of requirements. 
It was G— 4's prerogative to veto any 
site that was unacceptable from the 
constructor's standpoint. General Moore 
reviewed Andrews' selections until early 
August, when another Engineer officer, 
Col. Eugene Reybold, took over the 
G-4 post. 80 

Deciding where to concentrate the 
Regular Army divisions and where to 
build the reception centers was rela- 
tively easy. General Andrews planned 
to apportion the nine Regular Infantry 
divisions among the four existing armies 
and to pick the best available places for 
training the two Cavalry and two new 



80 ( 1 ) Memo, Moore for Marshall, 28 May 40. 
G-4/3'753- (2) G-4/31735. (3) Testimony of Brig 
Gen Harry A. Twaddle, G~3, 22, 23 Apr 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 1, pp. 191—93, 197, 
210-12. 



Armored divisions. The big permanent 
posts — Fort Bragg, North Carolina, with 
122,000 acres, Fort Benning, Georgia, 
with nearly 98,000, Fort Lewis, Washing- 
ton, with 62,500, and Fort Knox, 
Kentucky, with 33,500— were obvious 
choices as sites for the Regulars. Also 
selected as a matter of course were Fort 
Jackson, South Carolina, Fort Riley, 
Kansas, and Fort Ord, California, each 
of which possessed some 20,000 acres 
and well-developed transportation and 
utilities systems. Fort Devens, Massa- 
chusetts, Fort Houston, Texas, and Fort 
Custer, Michigan — posts which held di- 
visions in World War I and had since 
shrunk, but which could again expand 
— were also earmarked for the Regulars, 
as was Fort Bliss, a small station in 
western Texas with practically unlimited 
room for growth. Only one new reserva- 
tion, a 40,000-acre tract near Leon, 
Iowa, which Congress had approved 
for acquisition in 1936, figured in plans 
for the Regular divisions. 81 Locating 
reception centers for inductees was an 
even less complicated task. "We must 
have a certain amount of distribution 
for these reception centers," one member 
of the General Staff explained. "We 
can't ship these men long distances 
to . . . their processing, because 
some may be rejected and have to be 
sent home." 82 But because the reception 
centers were small — the largest was to 



81 { 1 ) Notes of Conf in ODCof S, 5 Jul 40. OCS, 
Notes of Gonfs to 26 Sep 40. (2) G-4/32439. (3) 
Memo, Hartman for Moore, 24 Jun 40. QM 652 
(PMP). (4) Rpt, Activities of Gonstr Div, Jul 40- 
Nov 41, pp. 168, 146, 155, 145. (5) Real Estate PR 
38, 15 Nov 41, pp. 64, 30, 52. EHD Files. (6) Pro- 
ceedings, Bd of Officers on Land Acquisition, 
Seventh Corps Area, 2 Aug 40. QM 601. 1 (7th CA). 

81 Gen Twaddle's Testimony, 23 Apr 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 1, p. 217. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



139 



hold only 3,000 men — Andrews had no 
trouble finding spots for them at posts 
throughout the country. 83 

Only when he had to choose sites for 
National Guard camps and for unit 
and replacement training centers did 
the G— 3 run into real difficulty. Stations 
for the Guardsmen and centers for 
trainees had been selected several years 
before. Attached to the Protective Mo- 
bilization Plan was a list of places where 
the eighteen National Guard divisions 
would assemble upon the outbreak of 
war. Some of the Guardsmen were to 
go to big reservations like Benning and 
Lewis, but since posts of that size were 
too few even for the Regulars, the 
General Staff had been forced to fall 
back on smaller forts, summer training 
grounds belonging to the States, and 
sites used in 191 7. The planners had 
thought of these places as concentration 
points where troops would spend thirty 
to sixty days in preparation for shipment 
overseas, not as camps where divisions 
would train for one year. Also annexed 
to the PMP was a blueprint for a system 
of training centers, but these facilities, 
like the camps, were designed to meet a 
war situation in which units and replace- 
ments would move rapidly to the fight- 
ing front. 84 That numerous shifts in 
location became necessary was an early 
sign of weakness in the mobilization 
plans. 

Construction men were the first to 
challenge the sites named in the PMP. 
On 20 May, after conferring with the 
Chief of Staff, General Moore sent 



83 Constr PR 15, g Apr 41, pp. 24-27. 

84 ( 1 ) War Dept, Protective Mobilization Plan, 
1939, and Annex 2. AG 381 (10-31-38) (Misc) C-M. 
(a) Gen Twaddle's Testimony, 22, 23 Apr 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part i, pp. 189-91, 218—19. 



Hartman the list of stations for the 
Guard together with a questionnaire. 
Moore wished to know what utilities 
there were at each location, where tents 
would serve, where barracks would be 
necessary, and how much it would cost 
to house the divisions. An authoritative 
answer would require on-the-spot sur- 
veying, and Hartman had no money 
for that. The most that he could do was 
to compile data on hand in his office 
and in the National Guard Bureau. 
Even this meager information indicated 
that some of the places were unfit not 
only for construction but for training as 
well. 86 Meantime, Capt. Leslie R. 
Groves, an Engineer officer attached to 
G-3, had raised objections to the PMP 
list. On 12 June he wrote and General 
Andrews signed a memorandum asking 
G-4 if the stations in the plan were "in 
such a state as to permit full use in the 
contemplated manner by the scheduled 
time." 86 Hartman, replying to Moore's 
questionnaire on 24 June, also stressed 
the need for thoroughgoing site investiga- 
tions. At least six of the proposed loca- 
tions were likely to cause trouble, he 
warned. Camp Blanding, Florida, was 
wooded and probably swampy. Fort 
Eustis, Virginia, abounded in marshes 
and streams. Fort Huachuca, Arizona, 
was too hilly for motorized units. Camps 
San Luis Obispo, California, and Hulen, 
Texas, were too small to train divisions. 
Fort Clark, a second Texas post, was 
ten miles from the nearest railroad. 
Information on some of the other Guard 
camps was so sketchy that Hartman 



8S (i ) Notes of Conf in OCofS, 20 May 40. OCS, 
Misc Confs, 20 May-25 Sep 40. (2) Memo, Moore 
for TQMG, qo May 40. G-4/31735 Sec 1. 

66 Memo, Andrews for Moore, 1 2 Jun 40. Opns 
Br Files, Camp Sites. 



140 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



did not know what to expect. He urged 
Moore to take the only practical course, 
to run an "actual physical survey and 
study on the ground of the sites under 
consideration." 87 

Moore had the sites surveyed but not 
by the Construction Division. To Hart- 
man's astonishment, the assignment went 
to the corps area commanders. Quarter- 
master protests were in vain. "I had 
never considered the Corps Area Com- 
manders as being responsible for any 
of the work until I received a peremptory 
order to permit them to select the sites 
for the camps .... I did not 
believe it was the intention of the War 
Department until General Moore in- 
sisted that it be done," Hartman wrote. 88 
What followed confirmed his misgivings. 
One commander completed the "in- 
vestigation" of a site nearly 500 miles 
from his headquarters twenty-four hours 
after the War Department asked for a 
report. Other commanders sent staff 
officers or went themselves to take the 
lay of the land. Several, adopting more 
formal methods, convened site boards. 
In no case was much attention paid to 
construction factors. Even when Quarter- 
master and Engineer officers visited the 
sites, their examinations were necessarily 
perfunctory, since no time was available 
for detailed surveys and tests. The corps 
area reports seldom mentioned engi- 
neering features. A number of sites were 
rejected but not because they would be 
difficult to build on. 89 

When authority was decentralized, the 
political pot began to boil. Corps area 

87 Memo, Hartman for Moore, 24 Jun 40. QM 
652 (PMP). 

88 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 3. 
8 »(i) AG 680.1 (7-1 1-40) (1) Sec 2. (2) Memo 

and Incls, Opns Br for Chief Constr Div, 12 Apr 41. 
Opns Br Files, Misc Papers. 



people were more sympathetic to local 
problems and more easily approached 
than that remote and impersonal entity, 
the War Department. Businessmen, poli- 
ticians, Guardsmen, and others who 
sought to influence the choice of camp 
sites now besieged corps area head- 
quarters. Though some of the petitioners 
were disappointed, a number got what 
they wanted. When the Chamber of 
Commerce of Brownwood, Texas, offered 
to lease a sizable tract at a nominal rent 
and to provide water, electricity, and 
natural gas at low rates, the Army, on 
the advice of Eighth Corps Area head- 
quarters, accepted. Local interest groups 
likewise succeeded in bringing projects 
to Spartanburg, South Carolina, Macon, 
Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee. 
In some localities, Guard commanders 
were also influential. Illustrative of the 
part they played is the case of Camp 
Blanding. In 1939 Brig. Gen. Vivian B. 
Collins, adjutant general of Florida, had 
chosen a 27,000-acre tract in Clay County 
to replace Camp Foster, a Guard reser- 
vation transferred to the Navy. Situated 
on Kingsley Lake and lush with pal- 
mettos, oaks, and vines, the place was a 
landscape architect's dream. The climate 
was salubrious. Nearby was a 66,000-acre 
ranch, available for lease. Envisioning a 
splendid camp, Collins late in 1 939 began 
to develop the site. An enthusiastic sup- 
porter of the project was Lt. Gen. Stanley 
D. Embick, commander of the Fourth 
Corps Area. Named for the Floridian 
who headed the National Guard Bureau, 
Camp Blanding soon found a place on 
the PMP list. When in June 1940 con- 
struction men began to talk of swamps 
and timber, Generals Moore and An- 
drews flew to Atlanta to consult General 
Embick, who assured them that Blanding 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



141 



would make a superb division camp. A 
visit to the site dissolved any lingering 
doubts they may have had. Further pro- 
tests from the Quartermaster Corps were 
unavailing. The Blanding episode was 
not unique. The story of San Luis Obispo 
followed much the same outline, and the 
fine hand of the state adjutants was else- 
where visible. 90 From the sidelines Hart- 
man watched, dismayed, while corps area 
commanders demonstrated what he re- 
garded as "their lack of understanding 
and their lack of ability to select a proper 
camp site." 91 

As reports came in from the corps 
area commanders, General Andrews re- 
vised the list of Guard camps again and 
again. With the discovery that Fort 
Eustis had no adequate maneuver area, 
plans for sending a division there went 
by the board. Terrain unsuitable for 
training ruled out Camp Hulen. Their 
isolation eliminated Forts Clark and Hua- 
chuca. Other changes originated not in 
the corps areas but in Washington. Plans 
for stationing Guardsmen at Knox and 
Benning fell by the way when Andrews 
assigned those posts to the newly created 
Armored Force. At the request of General 
Strong, who as head of WPD had care 
of the Army's strategic deployment, G— 3 
substituted sites in New Jersey, Pennsyl- 
vania, and Massachusetts for locations in 
Georgia, Louisiana, and South Carolina. 
Pressure for a camp in the vicinity of the 
Capital caused Andrews to shift the 29th 
Division from the Sabine River area of 
Louisiana to Fort Meade, Maryland. Of 

,0 (i) G-4/31375 Sees 1, 2. (a) QM 65a vol I for 
Camps Bowie, Croft, and Blanding. (3) OCS 14586- 
16. (4) AG 680.1 (7-1 1-40) (1 ) Sec 2. (5) Summary 
prepared by Constr Div (Mar 41), sub: Events 
Leading Up to the Use of Camp Blanding. Opns 
Br Files, Misc Papers. (6) G— 4/32267-8. 

n Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 9. 



the seventeen preferred sites named in 
PMP only seven remained by late July. 
On the 31st General Marshall approved 
the revised list of National Guard camps. 92 
This was the first of many such lists that 
he was to accept before the Construction 
Division gained a voice in selection. 

Viewed purely from a military angle, 
the ground forces sites were well chosen. 
While stations would be scattered through 
some thirty states, most of the training 
would be in the South. Geographic dis- 
tribution of the division posts matched 
General Andrews' requirements and Gen- 
eral Strong's as well. Clusters of camps 
and cantonments reflected the G—3 plan 
to organize and train nine corps under 
the existing armies. The heaviest troop 
concentrations would be in the eastern 
portion of the country, where in 1940 
the danger of attack seemed greatest; yet 
no comer of the United States would be 
without protection. Reception centers 
were conveniently placed to funnel re- 
cruits from populous areas to training 
establishments. Most of the unit and re- 
placement training centers likewise ap- 
peared to be ideally located. Some, like 
the Signal center at Fort Monmouth 
and the Engineer center at Fort Belvoir, 
were at the long-time homes of their 
branches and services, where excellent 
facilities were already available. Others, 
like the Field Artillery post at Fort Ethan 
Allen, in the hills of western Vermont, 
and the Coast Artillery station at Camp 
Davis, in the Onslow Bay area of North 



91 (1) C — 4/3 I 375- ( a ) Memo and Incls, Opns Br 
for Chief Constr Div, 12 Apr 41. Opns Br Files, 
Misc Papers. (3) Gen Twaddle's Testimony, 22 
Apr 41. In Truman Comm Hearings, Part 1, pp. 
190-91. (4) Memo, Strong for Andrews, 15 Jul 40. 
(5) Incl with Memo, Andrews for Marshall, 30 Jul 40. 
Last two in G— 4/3 1 948. 



142 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Excavation at Fort Devens, Massachusetts 



Carolina, were highly suitable for spe- 
cialist training. 

That a number of these sites would be 
hellishly difficult to build on was soon 
unmistakably clear. Preliminary reports 
from the field were full of complaints 
from construction men. On a trip to 
Florida in early August, Colonel Reybold 
and Major Groves, now a member of 
Gregory's staff, were alarmed at Bland - 
ing's poor topography. A short time later, 
surveyors found that portions of the 
Blanding site were twenty-four feet below 
the level of Kingsley Lake. Word from 
Quartermaster officers in California con- 
firmed Hartman's suspicions that San 
Luis Obispo was too small for a war- 
strength division. More disturbing was 



their discovery that a stream which fur- 
nished water to the few thousand Guards- 
men who camped there every summer 
was inadequate for 20,000 men the year 
round. News from some other projects 
was almost equally as black. The terrain 
at Devens was rugged, and beds of rock 
lay just beneath the sandy surface. Camp 
Davis was partly bog. A heavy stand of 
hardwood timber covered the site of 
Camp Forrest, Tennessee. Hilly ground 
at the Spartanburg tract, the future 
Camp Croft, made extensive grading 
there inevitable. Prospects at several more 
locations were far from promising. By 
the time the heads of the War Depart- 
ment realized how troublesome construc- 
tion at many of these places was to be, 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



143 



the opportunity for corrective action had 
passed. 93 Only once did the General Staff 
abandon a site, and then it did so re- 
luctantly and only after engineers had 
demonstrated that building costs would 
be prohibitive. 94 

In August 1941 Hartman told a Senate 
investigating committee, "I never knew 
until the directive came to me where [a] 
camp was to be." 95 What was true of 
camps was essentially true of other proj- 
ects. But if higher-ups in the War De- 
partment did not feel the need for Hart- 
man's help in selecting sites, they never- 
theless held him accountable for the 
speed and cost of construction. 

Mounting Pressure 

While others chose building sites, Hart- 
man tried to keep abreast of a large and 
growing program. By early summer con- 
struction was in full swing at most of the 
air bases and depots begun the year be- 
fore, and new work was starting to flow 
in. During June directives for some forty 
jobs totaled over $24 million. Seventy 
directives, carrying well over $22 million 
in construction funds, appeared in July. 
In a steady stream they came — orders to 
begin two dozen Air training and tactical 
stations, orders to expand Springfield 
Armory and Picatinny and Edgewood 
Arsenals, orders to expand the bomb 
loading plant at the Savanna Ordnance 
Depot, orders to put in more barracks at 



" ( 1 ) Memo, Groves for Gregory, i a Aug 40. 
Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp, Div Comments on. (2) 
G-4/32267-8. (3) QM 671 (San Luis Obispo) I. 
(4) QM 600.9,4 (Cp Devens). (5) QM 333.1 (Cp 
Davis). (6) QM 333,1 (Cp Forrest) I. (7) QM 652 
(Cp Croft) I. 

H For a detailed discussion of this case, see below, 

I P- 207-1 

"Truman Committee Hearings, Part 7, p. 2048. 



coastal forts, orders to boost the storage 
capacity at four large depots, orders to 
house the increase in the Regular Army, 
orders to build five i,ooo-man and five 
500-man reception centers, and orders to 
provide facilities which would enable 
Regular peace-strength divisions to con- 
centrate at nine permanent stations. All 
this was merely the beginning. By mid- 
July Quartermaster officers were thinking 
in terms of a one and one-half billion 
dollar program. 96 

By translating the early directives 
quickly into going projects, Hartman 
hoped to stay ahead of the game. With 
the first emergency orders, the drive was 
on. A new sense of urgency gripped the 
Construction Division. The staff went on 
a two-shift basis. The office stayed open 
seven days a week. 97 Pressure on the field 
increased, as Hartman, still enjoined from 
fixed-fee contracting, tried other means 
of stepping up production. Constructing 
Quartermasters began receiving "pep 
letters" from Washington. "The necessity 
for completing this work at the earliest 
possible date is most essential," read one 
broadside from Major Violante, "and 
necessary steps will be taken to expedite 
construction in every way. This cannot 
be too strongly emphasized." 98 For the 
first time in many years, project heads 
were free to make important changes in 
standard plans and to substitute locally 
available materials for those in the specifi- 
cations. Where sites had been chosen, 

9! (i) Constr Div OQMG, List of Directives, 15 
Mar 41. (2) List, Constr Div OQMG, 30 Sep 41, 
sub : Status of AC Projects at Time of Transfer to CE. 
Both in EHD Files. (3) Ltr, Gregory to TAG, 19 
Jul 40. QM 336.21. 

87 Thomas Interv, 27 Dec 55; Sperl Interv, 18 Jun 
56. 

• 8 Ltr, Lump Sum Br to CQM Holabird QM 
Depot, Baltimore, Md., 10 Jul 40. QM 652 (Ft Meade) 
I; and similar letters in QM 652 for various projects. 



144 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Robert P. Patterson 



layouts approved, and detailed plans 
completed in good time, work usually got 
off to a flying start. But where, as was 
often the case, these conditions did not 
obtain, there were hitches and delays. 
One Constructing Quartermaster, unable 
to advertise for bids because the corps 
area was holding up the layout and un- 
able to begin work by purchase and hire 
because there was a labor shortage in his 
district, summed up his predicament and 
that of many of his fellows when he wrote, 
"It is very difficult to accomplish wartime 
orders with peacetime restrictions."* 1 The so- 
lution, he suggested on 26 July, was to 
do the job by fixed-fee contract. 100 

Although the fixed-fee law had been 
on the books for nearly a month, it had 
yet to be invoked. Within the War De- 



98 Ltr, CQM Ft Ord to TQMG, 25 Jul 40. QM 
652 (Ft Ord) I. 

101 TWX, CQM Ft Ord to TQMG, 26 Jul 40. 
QM 65a (Ft Ord) I. 



partment, opposition to the CPFF con- 
tract was still strong. On 2 July, the day 
the President signed the bill, Johnson 
passed the word — use competitive meth- 
ods wherever possible. 101 He permitted 
negotiation only where it was "essential 
to expedite the accomplishment of the 
defense program." Every negotiated lump 
sum contract amounting to $500,000 or 
more and every fixed-fee, regardless of 
size, had to have his approval. 102 Judge 
Robert P. Patterson, who succeeded 
Johnson late in July, reaffirmed this 
policy. Shortly after taking office, he 
came out against a "general departure 
from firm-price contracts for construc- 
tion." 103 No arguments in favor of a 
change were offered by General Gregory, 
who made it clear he wanted no con- 
tractual innovations. 104 Even among 
Hartman's own officers there were some 
inveterate opponents of the fixed-fee 
agreement. 105 Nor were all groups within 
the industry ready to accept the so-called 
"contract of big business." 

A comment in the June 1 3 issue of the 
Engineering News-Record called forth ex- 
cited protests from the "little man." In 
an article hailing the return of the fixed- 
fee contract, the editors remarked, "It 
is admitted that the negotiation pro- 
cedure is likely to result in restricting 
most of the defense construction to a 
comparatively small number of larger 
contractors — unless Congress should pro- 
vide for a great deal more construction 



101 Memo, Actg SW for TQMG et al., 2 Jul 40. 
QM 160 Part 1. 

"'Memo, OASW for TQMG et al., 2 Jul 40. 
QM 160 Part 1. 

103 Memo, Patterson for Gregory, 5 Aug 40. QM 
400.13 (Mun Program-FY 1941)- 

lM Memo, OQMG Adm Div for Constr Div, 6 
Jul 40. QM 400.13 (Without Advertising) 1940-42. 

""Thomas Interv, 27 Dec 55. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



145 



than it has so far." 106 The magazine was 
scarcely out before small contractors were 
appealing to their congressmen for help. 
On the 17th a member of the House 
Ways and Means Committee brought 
the article to Woodring's attention. 
Terming an alliance with big business 
"unwise" and "inequitable," he urged 
that smaller firms be given an important 
part in the defense effort. 107 The News- 
Record attempted to set matters straight. 
Its next issue carried the statement: 

The new defense legislation extends the 
authority of both Army and Navy to use 
negotiated contracts in the continental 
United States. It thus is clear that the large 
majority of government contract work will 
be on this basis. Whether only the large con- 
tracting firms will benefit remains to be seen. 
However, as work increases in volume it 
seems reasonable that the smaller firms will 
get their chance, and even before that some 
of them no doubt will be given subcontracts 
by the large companies successful in getting 
negotiatedjobs. 108 

By this time small contractors were clos- 
ing ranks. 

The heating, plumbing, and electrical 
contractors were particularly concerned. 
Comprising an important segment of the 
industry, these specialty firms normally 
received a portion of every building con- 
tract. Through agreements with trade 
unions and materialmen, they had long 
ago established subletting of their spe- 
cialties as standard construction practice. 
Under fixed-price contracts, this system 
was profitable all the way around. Spe- 
cialty firms usually managed to do the 
work cheaper than anybody else. General 



106 ENR, June 13, 1940, p. 11. 

107 Ltr, Rep John W. McCormack (Mass.) to 
Woodring, 17 Jun 40. QM 600.1 (CPFF— Misc 
Corresp) I. 

108 ENR, June 20, 1940, p. 51. 



contractors saved on overhead, since they 
did not have to maintain organization 
and equipment for all types of construc- 
tion. With fixed-fee contracts, the story 
was likely to be different. Here the extent 
of subcontracting helped determine the 
size of the fee. Principal contractors bene- 
fited by subletting as little work as pos- 
sible. The Navy had been using fixed-fee 
agreements for nearly a year, and, re- 
portedly, its jobs had no subcontracts. 
Specialty interests feared that the Army's 
mammoth program was about to go the 
way of the Navy's smaller one. 109 

On 9 July a delegation called on John- 
son. Representing the national associ- 
ations of master plumbers and electrical, 
heating, piping, and air conditioning con- 
tractors, this group spoke for 30,000 firms 
employing more than 350,000 workmen. 
In answer to their demand for a share of 
the program, Johnson stated that The 
Quartermaster General was only just be- 
ginning to block out the new contract 
procedure. He suggested they prepare a 
memorandum outlining their position. 
The memo was ready the next day. Pre- 
sented to Stimson by the associations' 
attorney, O. R. McGuire, it recognized 
the urgent need for fixed-fee contracts. 
Nevertheless, the writers argued, if the 
War Department did nothing to prevent 
them, prime contractors would perform 
all the work themselves. Proposing to 
save the government time and money, 
the associations asked that fixed-fee con- 
tractors be prohibited by a clause in their 

1M (r) William Haber, Industrial Relations in the 
Building Industry (Cambridge: Harvard University 
Press, 1930), pp. 57-60. (a) John T. Dunlop and 
Arthur D. Hill, The Wage Adjustment Board, Wartime 
Stabilization in the Building and Construction Industry 
(Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1950), p. 10. 
(3) IncI with Ltr, O. R. McGuire, Wash., D.C., to 
Stimson, 10 Jul 40. QM 600.1 (CPFF) I. 



146 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



agreements from doing specialized con- 
struction unless they had at least two 
years' experience in such work. McGuire 
and his clients attracted quite a following. 
Companies that specialized in wood- 
working, painting, masonry, steel erec- 
tion, and sheet metal work joined in the 
protest. Suppliers and union leaders 
joined, too. From California, the Tech- 
nical Committee of Specialty Contractors 
advised Colonel Hartman to adopt a 
contractual safeguard. Otherwise, they 
warned, principals would set up their 
own specialty departments, buy unneces- 
sary machinery, and, perforce, do the 
work with unskilled labor. 110 

It was not Hartman' s intention to ex- 
clude the specialty firms; but neither did 
he intend to make subcontracts manda- 
tory. When McGuire contended that 
fixed-fee contractors ought to be pre- 
vented from doing any work that could 
be done at less cost to the government 
by others, Hartman readily agreed. But 
when McGuire demanded that the con- 
tract form be altered to require subletting 
of specialty items, Hartman demurred. 
"Work may be performed by experienced 
specialized subcontractors when it is in 
the interest of the Government to do so, 
and not otherwise," he said; how its 
interests would in each case best be served 
should be left for the government to 
decide. Hartman meant to settle the 
question at the time of negotiation, before 
the contractor was chosen and the fee 
was fixed. "Otherwise," he explained, 
"we might have a situation where the 

110 (i) Ltr, with Incl, McGuire to Stimson, 10 Jul 
40. QM 600.1 (CPFF) I. (2) Ltr, Hogan to Dillon, 
17 Jul 40. ANMB 334 Comm Members and Min. (3) 
Ltr, A, S. Whitmore, San Francisco, Cal., to Hart- 
man, 25 Jul 40. QM 600.1 (CPFF) I. (4) Journeymen 
Plumbers and Steam Fitters Journal, September 1940, 
P- 5- 



general contractor received a fixed fee 
based on an understanding that his or- 
ganization would perform the major part 
of the work and later find that he had by 
subcontracts turned over to others a 
major part of the work for which he had 
been especially selected and paid a fee." 111 
In Hartman's opinion, the agreement as 
written promised the specialists a fair 
deal. He called attention to the clause 
guaranteeing the contractor full reim- 
bursement for all payments to subcon- 
tractors. He also revealed that the As- 
sistant Secretary's office was reviewing a 
form for fixed-fee subcontracts. The spe- 
cialty men received further assurance. 
With William H. Harrison, chief of 
NDAC's new Construction Section, Hart- 
man hammered out a statement of policy, 
which the Hogan committee unanimously 
endorsed. 112 On 30 July Harrison an- 
nounced: 

Underlying the whole defense construc- 
tion program and particularly those projects 
handled on a cost-plus-a-fixed-fee basis is the 
intention that the work not only shall be 
done soundly, expeditiously, and economi- 
cally, but that it shall be done with due re- 
gard to the generally accepted methods and 
procedures currently followed in the con- 
struction industry. 113 

The statement had the desired effect. 
The protests subsided, as subcontractors 
settled back to await the flood of emer- 
gency orders. 

Not one to be diverted from a course 
he thought was right, Hartman mean- 



111 Memo, Hartman for Harrison, 6 Aug 40. QM 
600.1 (CPFF— Policy) I. 

115 (1) Ltr, Hartman to A. S. Whitmore, 29 Jul 40. 
QM 600.1 (CPFF) I. (a) Memo, Harrison for Hart- 
man, 31 Jul 40. QM 600.1 (CPFF— Policy) I. (3) 
Ltr, Hogan to Dillon, 5 Aug 40, ANMB-MB 203.4- 
3.1 Constr, etc. 

113 Quoted in The Constructor, August 1940, p. 11. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



147 



while intensified his efforts to use fixed-fee 
contracts. Though opposition was still 
strong, the outlook was improving. 
Among the many civilians called to high 
posts in Washington were a number who 
understood the contracting game. Knud- 
sen was a keen advocate of negotiation. 
Harrison's views on procurement methods 
reflected his experience as vice president 
and chief engineer of the American Tele- 
phone and Telegraph Company. Others 
in NDAC could also be relied upon to 
favor management agreements. Com- 
missioner Ralph Budd was a veteran rail- 
road construction man, and Gano Dunn, 
one of Stettinius' lieutenants, was presi- 
dent of the J. G. White Engineering 
Company. The Hogan committee stood 
solidly behind the fixed-fee proposition. 
The return of Benedict Crowell strength- 
ened this lineup greatly. When the Re- 
publican Stimson became Secretary of 
War, one of the first men he turned to 
for help was his former client, Crowell, 
a Democrat whose friendship with the 
President dated back to the Wilson ad- 
ministration. Even before Stimson's Cabi- 
net appointment received Senate con- 
firmation, Crowell was back in the War 
Department, preparing for his role as a 
senior adviser. By late July 1 940 the way 
was clear for several fixed-fee lettings. 

On the 29th Harry Loving, henceforth 
the Construction Division's chief negoti- 
ator, awarded his first fixed-fee contract, 
an agreement with Charles T. Main, 
Inc., for architectural and engineering 
services at Springfield Armory. Four days 
later a second fixed-fee contract, this one 
with Fred T. Ley for construction of the 
Mi rifle plant at Springfield, was signed 
by Brigadier General Hartman (the new 
rank had become effective on 1 August, 
when General Seaman finished out his 




Harry W. Loving 



terminal leave). Discussions with Whit- 
man, Requardt & Smith of Baltimore led 
on the 9th to a fixed-fee agreement for 
architect-engineer services at Edgewood 
Arsenal and Aberdeen Proving Ground. 
During the last three weeks of August, 
Hartman and Loving let six additional 
fixed-fee contracts, some for design and 
some for construction. Included were 
projects at Edgewood, Aberdeen, Pica- 
tinny Arsenal, the Philadelphia Quarter- 
master Depot, and Elmendorf Field in 
Alaska. 114 Thus all the early fixed-fee jobs 
were either industrial or air. Hartman 
had so far been unable to use the high 
speed contract where speed was needed 
most — on camps for the million-man 
Army. 

Throughout the summer of 1940 he 
waited anxiously for funds to become 
available for camp construction. Ap- 

114 H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on Third Supplemental National 
Defense Appropriation Bill for 1941, pp. 66-67. 



148 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



propriations for camps were irrevocably 
bound to those other, more controversial 
measures, the National Guard and Se- 
lective Service bills, for unless Congress 
voted to call the men, there would be no 
need to provide money for sheltering 
them. Months of good construction 
weather were lost in deliberation and 
debate. The isolationists put up a fierce 
battle against the Guard and draft propo- 
sals. The President, making his bid for an 
unprecedented third term, did not at 
first press for action. As time wore on 
without a vote on the essential legis- 
lation, military leaders became increas- 
ingly concerned. On 5 August, six weeks 
after the introduction of the Burke- 
Wadsworth bill and two months after 
the President's request for authority to 
federalize the Guard, General Marshall 
appealed to members of the Senate Ap- 
propriations Committee: 

Shelter is a serious problem at the present 
moment. We have known for some time 
where we wanted to put these people. We 
had decided on the type of shelter to be 
erected and had plans and specifications 
for it. We thought Congress would settle the 
question of authority to order out the Na- 
tional Guard and the matter of compulsory 
training by the 1st of August. . . . 
What has happened is that the weeks have 
been passing and we have no authority to 
enter into contracts to provide the additional 
shelter required. 

He warned, "We cannot afford to specu- 
late regarding the security of this coun- 
try." 115 But Congress failed to heed his 
injunction. The political fireworks con- 
tinued. Not until September did General 
Hartman receive the necessary funds. 

As early as July lack of construction 
money threatened to disrupt plans for 
bringing men into the Army. The General 



Staff, anticipating congressional ap- 
proval, had set 16 September as the 
tentative date for ordering the first 
National Guard units into service; soon 
thereafter, men were to be drafted to 
bring the Regular Army and the Guard 
units to war strength. On 30 July Colonel 
Meyer of G— 4 explained the meaning of 
this plan in terms of construction: 

To bring the Regular Army to war strength 
will require additional construction for ap- 
proximately 100,000 men. This construction 
will require essentially the expansion of 
existing facilities, and can probably be ef- 
fected in two months from the time funds 
become available. To bring in the National 
Guard will require the occupation of new or 
partially developed sites which involves 
major construction of utilities and hospitali- 
zation prior to occupancy. Such construc- 
tion will require a minimum of three months 
from the time funds become available. 116 

Thus, even if the Quartermaster Corps 
began to build immediately, enough 
shelter would not be available at Regular 
Army posts until October, and National 
Guard camps would not be ready before 
1 November, six weeks after the first 
Guardsmen were slated to be called. 

Alarmed at this situation, Hartman 
and G-4 looked for some means of be- 
ginning construction in advance of con- 
gressional action. WPA funds offered one 
possibility. General Moore encouraged 
their use in clearing land, digging water 
and sewer ditches, and building minor 
structures. By employing relief money the 
Quartermaster Corps got preliminaries 
under way at a number of projects. 
Nevertheless, launching the full-scale pro- 
gram required funds far in excess of those 
available from WPA. A more promising 
source of construction money lay in the 
President's emergency fund. In view of 



us S Subcomm of the Gomm on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on H R 10263, pp. 4, 2. 



"•Memo, Meyer for Marshall, 30 Jul 40. G-4/ 

31735 Sec !. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



149 



Roosevelt's announced intention of 
spending his "kitty" for planes and pilots 
and for antiaircraft guns and gunners, 
the General Staff at first hesitated to ask 
him to use any of it for construction. 
Then someone hit upon the happy ex- 
pedient of asking him, not for an outright 
grant, but for a loan. On 29 July repre- 
sentatives of G— 3 and G-4 conferred with 
Nurse and Hartman. All agreed that the 
problem was primarily one of the new 
National Guard camps. At established 
posts additional troops could be crowded 
in temporarily by double-bunking and 
other makeshifts. At most of the Guard 
camps — those in the South — men could 
live in tents, but only if utilities, hos- 
pitals, and storehouses were provided 
beforehand. In line with this thinking, 
General Marshall requested funds for 
these necessities at twelve National Guard 
sites and for a full division camp at Fort 
Dix, New Jersey, one of the northern 
posts where troops would spend the win- 
ter. Roosevelt agreed to the proposal, 
and on 2 August approved a loan of 
$29.5 million. In less than a month, the 
money was exhausted. 117 

The loan from the President's kitty 
went to fourteen different projects. The 
G-4, Colonel Reybold, allotted part of 
the money for clearing, grading, and 
draining divisional camp sites at Ed- 
wards, Jackson, Blanding, McClellan, 
Shelby, Livingston, Claiborne, Robinson, 
Sill, Bowie, and Lewis and for prelimi- 
nary work on Coast Artillery firing 



117 (1 ) WD Ltr AG 600.12 IR (6-6-40) M-D-M, 
to Chiefs Arms and Servs, 15 Jun 40, sub: WD Policy 
on Utilization of WPA Funds. AG 600.12 IR (3-1 1- 
33) Sec I F. (2) 1st Ind, 23 Jul 40 on Ltr, CG Sixth 
Corps Area to TAG. QM 12 1.2 Part 3. (3) Notes of 
Conf, 29 Jul 40. G-4/31751. (4) Memo and Incl, 
Meyer for Marshall, 30 Jul 40. (5) Memo, Reybold 
for Marshall, 30 Aug 40. Last two in G— 4/31735 
Sec 1. 



centers at Stewart and Hulen. These jobs 
were begun almost immediately by pur- 
chase and hire. The remainder of the 
money went for a cantonment for the 
44th Division at Fort Dix. This project 
was advertised for lump sum bids. On 
30 August the Constructing Quarter- 
master at Dix awarded a $5,535,000 
fixed-price contract to the George A. 
Fuller Company. 118 Years afterward 
General Gregory recalled, "One of the 
first camps we built was Dix. That was 
not a cost-plus-a-fixed-fee contract and 
it went through pretty good." 118 With one 
of the world's biggest and best con- 
struction organizations on the job, the 
work did indeed go well. But the con- 
tractor took a licking. In an unsuccessful 
attempt to recoup its losses, the Fuller 
Company later entered twenty-two 
claims for additional payment, four of 
which totaled a million dollars. 120 

With approval of the National Guard 
Act on 27 August, General Hartman took 
steps to get the Guard camps fully under 
way. Although the act carried no money, 
passage of an appropriation bill was only 
a matter of time. At a conference in 
General Marshall's office on the 30th 
Hartman suggested borrowing $150 mil- 
lion of the funds for expediting production 
from the Ordnance Department. The 
Chief of Staff told him to "get it and go 
ahead." But the Bureau of the Budget 
turned thumbs down. Hartman then de- 
cided to start building, money or no. On 
the 31st Major Nurse informed G— 4 that 
the Construction Division was proceeding 
to select contractors and negotiate fixed- 
fee contracts for eight of the critical 
projects. Since funds were not yet avail- 

118 (1) G-4/32429. (2) Telg, Gregory to CQM Ft 
Dix, 30 Aug 40. QM 652 (Ft Dix — Tempo Housing). 

u» Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings, p. 17. 

"»Q,M 158 (Fuller, Geo. A.) 1940-41. 



150 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



able, "tentative deficits" were being in- 
curred. On 10 September Colonel Rey- 
bold gave this action the Staff's blessing. 
Meanwhile, on -the gth, the President 
signed the second supplemental defense 
appropriation bill, which carried approxi- 
mately $5.4 billion for the War and Navy 
Departments. This measure provided 
$201,109,030 for command construction, 
including $128,107,115 for the Guard 
camps and, on the industrial side, an 
additional S3 2 5 million for expediting 
production. It also gave The Quarter- 
master General contracting authority in 
the amount of $14 million to be applied 
to construction work and made available 
$6,524,336 to the Chief of Engineers for 
work on seacoast defenses. 121 

Even before Congress voted to call the 
Guard, G— 3 announced a formal schedule 
for expanding the Army. Four National 
Guard divisions were to enter federal 
service on 16 September, to be followed 
by six more on 15 October, four on 15 
November, and four on 15 December. 
Meanwhile, beginning with 75,000 se- 
lectees on 15 October, conscription would 
proceed at a rate designed to bring the 
total number of draftees in the Army to 
400,000 by 15 January. Both Reybold 
and Hartman despaired of meeting these 
dates. Immediately after passage of the 
National Guard Act, they asked the Chief 
of Staff to revise the schedule to allow 
more time for construction. General 
Marshall listened sympathetically to their 
proposal, but with the fate of the Burke- 
Wadsworth bill still in doubt, he hesi- 
tated to take a step that might prejudice 
its chances. While Marshall pondered 
the question, word came that a change 

121 (1 ) Notes of Conf in OCofS, 30 Aug 40. OCS, 
Misc Confs, 20 May-25 Sep 40. (2) Ltr, Nurse to 
TAG, 31 Aug 40, and 1st Ind, 10 Sep 40, QM 600. r 
(Misc) E940. (3) 54 Stat. 872. 



in plans would probably defeat selective 
service. That settled the matter. On 12 
September Reybold gave Hartman the 
bad news. While the induction of draftees 
might later be postponed, the Guard di- 
visions would come in on schedule. 122 

Signed by the President on 16 Sep- 
tember 1940, the Selective Service Act 
focused attention on the critical problem 
of the camps. Under the draft law, no 
men could be conscripted until "shelter, 
sanitary facilities, water supplies, heating 
and lighting arrangements, medical care, 
and hospital accommodations" had been 
provided for them. 123 On the 19th General 
Marshall announced that a similar policy 
would govern the calling of the Guard. 
"We are following the progress of shelter 
more exactingly than any other one 
item," he told the House Appropriations 
Committee. "So long as the international 
situation permits, we will set the dates 
for the induction of the National Guard 
and the trainees on the basis of completion 
of shelter." Asked if enough building 
funds were on hand, the Chief of Staff 
replied that they were not, and he added, 
"Every day counts." 124 Marshall pointed 
out that the third supplemental defense 
appropriation bill, then under consider- 
ation, contained a total of $367,293,902 
for ground and air projects. A breakdown 
of this figure showed $29.5 million to 
repay the loan from the President, 
$8,774,000 for training areas, $19 million 

Memo, G-3 for Marshall, 14 Aug 40. (2) 
Memo, Reybold for Marshall, 20 Aug 40. Both in 
G-4/31453-18. (3) Memo, Reybold for G— 1, 28 Aug 
40. G-4/31048. (4) Biennial Report of the Chief of 
Staff, July 1, 1941. In Report of the Secretary of War to 
the President, 1941 (Washington, 1941), p. 52. (5) 
Memo, Reybold for TQMG, 12 Sep 40. G^-4/31453- 
18. 

123 54 Stat. 885. 

m H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d sess, Hearings, Third Supplemental National Defense 
Appropriation Bill for 1941, p. 40. 



FIRST STEPS TOWARD MOBILIZATION 



151 



for facilities to increase the Air Corps 
to fifty-four combat groups, and 
$310,019,902 for shelter. Because wages 
and prices were rising sharply, this last 
estimate allowed $450 per man for can- 
tonments and $320 per man for tent 
camps. The committee acted at once to 
remedy the lack of funds. Extracting the 
sums for shelter, airfields, and training 
areas from the third supplemental, it 
sponsored a joint resolution which quickly 
passed both Houses and received the 
President's signature on 24 September. 125 
Thus, as General Marshall noted, the 
bulk of the money for camp construction 
became available "as the leaves were 
beginning to fall." 126 

With passage of the third supple- 
mental early in October, Congress com- 
pleted the current round of defense ap- 
propriations. Approved on the 8th, this 
act made available approximately $1 bil- 
lion to the Army and Navy. Included 
were substantial sums for military con- 
struction. The Quartermaster General 
got nearly $65 million in building funds — 
$33,7 1 7,4% for maintenance, $1,729,357 
for the repair of hospitals, and $29.5 
million to pay back the loan from the 
President's kitty. The sum of $122,850 
went to the Chief of Engineers for 
modernizing seacoast fortifications. For 
expediting production, there was a total 
of $178 million in cash and contract 
authority, part of which was for building 
government-owned aircraft plants. 127 
Congress had granted every request made 
to it for construction funds. But Congress 

185 (1) Ibid., pp. 33-34, 57-58. (2) Gen Marshall's 
Testimony, 30 Sep 40. In S Subcomm of the Comm 
on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on H R 10572, 
P- i. (3) 54 Stat. 958. 

186 Biennial Report of the Chief of Staff, 1941, in 
Report of the Secretary of War to the President, 1941, 

P- 58- 

m 54 Stat. 965. 



had not been asked for all that would be 
necessary. Questioned on 19 September 
as to whether the latest estimate for tent 
camps would hold good, General Hart- 
man replied, "The estimate of $320 was 
made about three weeks ago, and within 
the last week lumber has jumped from 
$6 to $8 per thousand feet." 128 Testifying 
before a Senate committee ten days later, 
General Marshall said, "We are not at 
all certain that the funds provided for 
shelter are sufficient. It is impossible to 
say at this moment whether they are or 
not. If they do prove insufficient, we will 
request the necessary additional funds 
when Congress convenes in January." 129 
General Hartman was in a precarious 
position. Time was short. Winter with 
its bad construction weather loomed 
ahead. Unsuitable sites, inadequate engi- 
neering data, and uncertain markets were 
but some of the factors that threatened 
delay. If induction dates were to be met, 
the Construction Division would have to 
do a job of unusual difficulty with un- 
precedented speed. But speed meant 
money. Building funds were insufficient 
to pay for the program even if rigid 
economy were practiced. To complete 
the camps on schedule and to keep within 
the available funds was impossible. But 
that was Hartman's assignment — an as- 
signment he reportedly accepted only 
"because of the constant reiteration by 
Moore that, if he did not, the work would 
be assigned to the Corps of Engineers 
and that would be the end of the Con- 
struction Quartermaster." 130 



12 ' H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on Third Supplemental National 
Defense Appropriation Bill for 1341, p. 58. 

119 S Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 3d sess ) Hearings on H R 10572, p. 7. 

130 Gen Groves Comments on Second Draft, MS, 
Construction in the United States, IV, 4. Cited 
hereinafter as Groves Second Draft Comments. 



CHAPTER V 



Launching Defense Construction 



During the fall of 1940 work flowed 
into the Construction Division with un- 
precedented speed. Beginning shortly 
after Labor Day, the flood of directives 
reached its crest in October. On 1 1 
September orders arrived for 9 large 
camps and one general hospital. Three 
mornings later the stack of mail on 
General Hartman's desk contained au- 
thorizations for 8 additional camps and 2 
lesser ground force projects. On the 1 9th, 
when g more camps, 7 miscellaneous 
housing projects, 2 airfields, and a muni- 
tions plant were added to the rapidly 
growing list, one of Patterson's assist- 
ants informed him: "Work is now ar- 
riving and amounts to a total which was 
not reached until nine months after war 
was declared in 1 gr 7." 1 The total con- 
tinued to climb. By late October 
Hartman had on file more than 300 
emergency directives for jobs ranging 
in size from a single structure costing 
a few thousand dollars to a 75-million- 
dollar smokeless powder plant. With 
these directives came orders for the 
inevitable extras — service clubs, guest 
houses, infirmaries, dental clinics, officers 
quarters, induction buildings, chapels, 
painting, and paved roads. 2 To get this 
program under way was Hartman's first 
objective. 

1 Memo, Maj Simpson, OASW, for ASVV, 19 
Sep 40. QM 022 (Constr Div). 

*(i) Constr Div OQMG, List of Directives, 15 
Mar 41. EHD Files. (2) Constr PR's 15 and 29, 
passim. 



In ordinary times launching con- 
struction was a complicated process 
consuming months and sometimes years. 
Plans and specifications were prepared 
beforehand and in full detail. Estimates 
were figured with scrupulous exactitude. 
Sites were thoroughly surveyed, and 
layouts were drawn with care. Land was 
acquired by negotiation with the owners, 
which often meant much patient bar- 
gaining, or by condemnation, which 
might drag slowly through the courts. 
In neither case could building com- 
mence until the Attorney General had 
cleared the title; a law of 1841 forbade 
it. Another source of delay was the 
Bacon-Davis Act of 1 931 , which as- 
sured most laborers and mechanics 
working for government contractors 
wages not less than those prevailing 
on similar jobs in the locality. The task 
of determining the prevailing rates fell 
to the Secretary of Labor, who normally 
took from four to six weeks to complete 
the process. 3 It was customary to make 
a separate "predetermination" for each 
contract. "Thus," as Hartman's adviser 
on labor relations, Leslie E. Brigham, 
explained, "if one building was to be 
constructed the whole process of de- 
termining wages . . . was gone 
through with. Then, if two weeks later 
another building was put up across the 



a (1 ) 5 Stat. 468. (2) 46 Stat. 1 494. (3) 49 Stat. 101 1 . 
(4) Ltr, Seaman to TAG, 10 Oct 39. OCE Legal 
Div, Labor (Dept of) to 4-29-43. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



153 



street involving exactly the same trades, 
the process was again repeated." 4 Under- 
lying much of the slowness with which 
most peacetime projects started was the 
law requiring competitive bids. Not 
until plans were firm, sites available, and 
minimum wage rates fixed could the 
machinery for advertised lettings go 
into motion. 

With the emergency of 1940 "time 
is of the essence" became the watchword 
and speed became the "paramount 
consideration." But, before it could rally 
to these slogans, the Construction Divi- 
sion first had to free itself from the 
shackles of peacetime procedures. This 
it attempted to do and with considerable 
success. The Act of July 2, 1940, the 
negotiation statute, cut through the 
tangle of competitive red tape. An un- 
derstanding between Brigham and of- 
ficials in the Labor Department put an 
end to duplicate predeterminations; wage 
rates were henceforth determined for a 
given locality and applied to all jobs 
undertaken there during a 90-day pe- 
riod. Legislation urged by Colonel 
Valliant and enacted on 9 October 1940 
permitted construction to begin before 
property titles had been proved valid. 5 
Removing these procedural obstacles 
helped clear the way for action. Still 
there remained the task of starting a 
billion-dollar program almost overnight. 

The sudden surge of directives trans- 
formed the central office into a hive of 
frantic activity. "Nowhere in these high- 



4 Rpt, Brigham to Bennett, 30 Sep 40. EHD Files. 

*(i) Ibid. (2) Memo of Understanding, Dept of 
Labor Office of the Solicitor for Bennett, 28 Sep 40. 
OCE Legal Div Lib, Labor Wage and Hour Deci- 
sions. (3) Draft of Ltr, Woodring (RDV) to Chrm 
H Judiciary Comm (Jun 40), and notations thereon. 
QM 601. 1 I. (4) 54 Stat. 1083. 



pressure days is the heat any hotter and 
the pressure any greater in Washington 
than in the Construction Division of the 
Quartermaster Corps," wrote colum- 
nist Jerry Kluttz early in October. 6 To 
members of the Hartman team the 
description seemed apt. It was hectic, 
one man recalled. Another likened the 
division to a madhouse. The still rela- 
tively puny force was nearly snowed 
under with work. Mail arrived by the 
truckload. One small section of the En- 
gineering Branch soon had a backlog 
of 1,100 unanswered letters. Calls 
swamped the switchboard. The halls 
teemed with visitors, as contractors, 
materialmen, equipment dealers, and a 
good many others beat a path to the 
men with a billion dollars to spend. Only 
by unremitting effort was the division 
able to keep abreast of it all. 7 

In the Munitions Building space was 
at a premium. With scores of new em- 
ployees already at work and more ar- 
riving daily, the division had to utilize 
every available inch. Even storerooms 
served as offices, and some areas were so 
jam-packed that people had to climb over 
desks in order to move about. Hartman, 
who had been battling for larger quarters 
since spring, attributed these cramped 
conditions to "a total lack of apprecia- 
tion by the Space Procurement Officer 
of the War Department and General 
Gregory of the office space needed." 8 
Gregory was at length won over. "It 
seemed to me," he later said, "that 



8 Washington Daily News, October 7, 1940, p. 14. 

7 (1) Intervs with Col Simon Jacobson, 7 Jun 55; 
Henry J. Klein, 29 May 57; Gen Dreyer, 27 Feb 
59. (2) Ltr, Gavin Hadden to EHD, 22 May 53. (3) 
Answers to Questionnaire, Col Violante to EHD, 25 
Sep 57. 

8 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, pp. 7-8. 



154 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



one of the things we had to fight 
every minute was getting more office 
space .... Finally, after much 
clamoring and so forth, we got what 
was known as the Railroad Retirement 
Building." 9 The division moved to its 
new quarters early in October. But even 
then, Hartman complained, "there 
was just about half the space re- 
quired .... This necessitated 
sending part of the personnel outside 
of the building with consequent loss in 
efficiency." 10 

Despite many vicissitudes, the divi- 
sion's morale was good. Everyone worked 
long and hard. The chief himself set 
the pace, taking time out only when 
he could keep awake no longer. Key 
officers stayed at their jobs until eleven 
o'clock seven nights a week, and, al- 
though the War Department had ap- 
proved no overtime pay, civilians stayed, 
too. Most of the younger men took it 
in stride. One 34-year-old captain re- 
ported that the effort was no strain. But 
to men in their 50's and Go's these were 
arduous days. Jacobson, who was 52, 
wondered at times how long he could 
last, and Lamphere, at 5g, allowed that 
he was not "so full of vinegar" as in 191 7. 
If there was plenty of hard work, there 
was also plenty of jollity. 11 Even from 
the front office, where events flowed 
fastest, came sounds of laughter now and 
then. There Major Nurse maintained 
a daily log. "General Hartman was 
aware of this diary," Nurse related, "in 



s Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings, p. 9. 

10 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 8. 

11 Intervs with August G. Sperl, 18 Jun 56; Col 
Thomas, 27 Dec 55; Gen Dreyer, 27 Feb 59; Col 
Jacobson, 7 Jun 55; Mr. Lamphere, 26 Jun 56. 



fact, he encouraged me in keeping it up. 
When things got especially tough and 
he felt in the mood for a laugh (God 
knows he needed it on occasion), he 
would come to my desk and glance 
through my remarks and sketches which 
were often of a humorous sort." 12 Hard 
pressed though they were, Hartman and 
his crew generally displayed good humor, 
enthusiasm, and a will to do. 

September found preparations well 
advanced and all the branch chiefs 
pushing their phases of the operation. 
The fixed-price end of the program was 
under Violante's firm control. Bennett 
in Administrative, White in Repairs and 
Utilities, Koke in Auditing and Ac- 
counting, and Value in Liaison had their 
departments well in hand. Jacobson in 
Procurement and Expediting was or- 
dering such varied items as kitchen 
equipment, laundry machinery, fire en- 
gines, furniture, and stoves. Jones in 
Legal was reviewing contracts and de- 
vising ways to get things done and still 
keep within the law. Bayer in Funds and 
Estimating was putting out a new manual 
for Constructing Quartermasters. The 
free lance, Major Thomas, worked at 
many jobs, establishing a system of 
progress reporting, trying to set up audit 
machinery, running the school for Con- 
structing Quartermasters, breaking in 
new employees, and more. Yet in these 
critical weeks of getting started, the bur- 
den of responsibility fell with special 
weight on certain individuals and 
branches, on Lamphere and Engineering, 
Valliant and Real Estate, the Construc- 
tion Advisory Committee, Loving as 
chief negotiator, and, most heavily, on 
General Hartman. 



,! Ltr, Nurse to OCMH, 9 Mar 55. EHD Files. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



155 



Policies and Policymakers 

Undertaking the first mobilization 
program in more than twenty years, 
Hartman proceeded with the lessons 
of history in mind. As in World War I, 
military construction was to be largely 
a civilian endeavor. Heavy reliance was 
placed on industry. Rejecting the theory 
that the Army itself might do the work, 
using purchase and hire, Hartman turned 
to contractors and architect-engineers. 
He asked manufacturers of construction 
materials to double and treble their 
output. He appealed to workers in the 
building trades for co-operation. He 
designed the Army-industry team for 
getting work done fast. Nevertheless, he 
was keenly aware of his responsibility 
for protecting the public interest. It was, 
he emphasized, the duty of every con- 
struction officer "to see that all money is 
wisely and honestly expended." 13 Once 
again dollars would be traded for days 
but somewhat less freely than in 1 91 7. 

Under emergency conditions, cost- 
plus-a-fixed-fee was, as Dresser put it, 
"the only way." 1 * The CPFF contract 
was not merely a timesaver; it could, if 
skillfully administered, save money as 
well. "I have always been convinced," 
said Hartman, "that this form of con- 
tract is an economical one, provided 
that proper safeguards are thrown around 
the cost accounting of the project and 
also that strenuous efforts are made to 
keep politics and political appointees 
out of the picture." 15 His solution to the 
political problem was the Construction 



13 OQMG Manual, Supplement to Guide for 
CQM's, Rev 1940, Covering FF Projects, 27 Aug 40, 
p. 1. EHD Files. 

"Dresser Interv, 2 Apr 57. 

u Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. n . 



Advisory Committee, which would 
choose contractors without fear or favor 
and on the basis of merit alone. His 
auditing system confirmed the promise 
he had made to Congress in 1939, that 
all expenditures would be subject to 
absolute check and control. The new 
fixed-fee contracts promised reimburse- 
ment only for such "actual expenditures 
in the performance of the work as may 
be approved or ratified by the Contract- 
ing Officer," and one of the chief duties 
of Constructing Quartermasters was to 
make certain that the government re- 
ceived full value for money paid out. 16 
Nor did the effort to marry speed and 
economy end there, for Hartman tried 
by every means he knew to get the most 
for every fixed-fee dollar. 

CPFF contracts made possible sub- 
stantial savings on bonds, insurance, 
and taxes — expenses lump-sum con- 
tractors passed on to the government 
in the price of their bids. Because the 
Construction Advisory Committee was 
selecting contractors of outstanding 
ability and unquestioned integrity, per- 
formance bonds were unnecessary; and, 
since fixed-fee contractors would receive 
no reimbursement for labor and materials 
until they turned in vouchers, the re- 
quirement for payment bonds was super- 
fluous. At Hartman's prompting, Con- 
gress excepted fixed-fee contracts from 
the law that made bonding mandatory. 
Since it was government policy to self- 
insure against fire, and since fixed-fee 
contractors were, in fact, agents of the 
War Department, fire insurance was 
nugatory. Additional savings were made 
by reducing the amounts the government 



" CPFF Form I, approved by the ASW, 12 Jul 40, 
art. II. 



156 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



indirectly paid in taxes. Fixed-fee con- 
tractors were exempt from certain federal 
levies, including transportation, com- 
munications, and manufacturers' excise 
taxes. Moreover, Hartman resisted col- 
lection of state and local taxes from these 
contractors, maintaining that the burden 
would fall on the United States. Of 
twenty-two states imposing sales, use, 
and similar taxes, eighteen granted full 
or partial exemptions, while four con- 
tinued to exact payment. 17 Although 
savings on these items amounted to a 
considerable sum, they were negligible 
compared with savings possible on ma- 
terials and labor. 

As the Army, the Navy, and other 
federal agencies got defense construction 
under way and private industry began 
expanding for war production, the de- 
mand for building materials rose rapidly. 
Scarcities developed, deliveries slowed, 
and prices started to climb. Hartman 
took steps to combat shortages and high 
costs. First, he tailored requirements 
to fit supplies. When the lumber industry 
revealed that it had on hand huge quan- 
tities of i o-foot joists — a short, nonstand- 
ard length which had been stockpiled 
as culls — he ordered structural blue- 
prints altered to take the shorter studs. 
In the Engineering Branch, Lamphere 



17 (i ) Draft of Ltr, SW to the Speaker, H R (n.d.). 
QM 600.1 (Misc) 1940. (2) 54 Stat. 873. (3) Memo, 
Jones for FF Br, 1 Oct 40. QM 600.1 (Ins Risk). (4) 
Ltr of Instr, Hartman to CQM's, 5 Nov 40. QM 
600.1 (CPFF— Policy) I. (5) Constr Div OQMG 
GPFF Ltr 13, 33 Oct 40. EHD Files. (6) Incl with 
Ltr, JAGO to Rep Robert L. Doughton, 2 Mar 4a. 
OCE Legal Div Lib. States granting exemptions 
were : Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, 
Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, 
New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, 
South Dakota, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. 
Those enforcing payment were : Alabama, California, 
North Dakota, and Wyoming. 



made similar changes, adjusting specifi- 
cations to productive capacity whenever 
possible. As a second step, appeals for 
help were broadcast to industry. The 
response was gratifying. The Southern 
Pine Association formed a special war 
committee to co-operate with the Army. 
The Lehigh Portland Cement Company 
placed its nationwide organization at 
the division's disposal to assist with pro- 
curement. Meanwhile, Hartman was 
banking heavily on a third expedient, 
centralized purchasing, to help stabilize 
lumber prices and keep his projects sup- 
plied. Colonel Jacobson waited only for 
the necessary funds before swinging into 
action. 18 

Even more troubling than the ma- 
terials outlook was the specter of the 
silk-shirted construction worker of World 
War I. Nothing, as far as national policy 
was concerned, prevented contractors from 
going into the labor market and bidding 
as high as they wished, for the adminis- 
tration made no attempt to control wages 
on a nationwide basis until after Pearl 
Harbor. A spiral seemed inevitable un- 
less Hartman himself could control wages. 
Practical considerations compelled him 
to make the attempt. Slim construction 
budgets made no provisions for wage 
boosts. Furthermore, lump sum con- 
tractors, trying to keep within a pre- 
arranged price, would be deprived of 
workers if fixed-fee contractors "snow- 
balled" wages. Hartman sought to pre- 
vent unnecessary increases by placing a 
ceiling on wages. What he did was to 
declare the minimum Bacon-Davis rates 
set by the Department of Labor to be 



18 (1) Dreyer Interv, 37 Feb 59,; Sperl Interv, 18 
Jun 56. (2) Col Fred G. Sherrill, Lumber in the War 
(MS), I, p. 5. EHD Files. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



157 



the maximum. Fixed-fee contractors who 
paid higher rates without his approval 
in writing would do so at their own ex- 
pense. He thus retained the final, even 
if he did not possess the initial, say on 
wage rates. 19 

There remained the question of pre- 
mium pay. Most agreements between 
contractors and the building trades 
unions called for time and a half or 
double time for work in excess of so 
many hours a week and on Saturdays, 
Sundays, and holidays. Labor had in- 
sisted on these provisions in order to 
shorten the work week, and contractors 
normally scheduled construction to avoid 
paying the almost prohibitive rates. 
In addition, unions sometimes demanded 
bonus rates and special concessions for 
shift work. With time the vital factor 
in defense, many of Hartman's projects 
would be working six or seven days a 
week on multiple shifts. If labor costs 
were not to be excessive, he had to find 
a way to escape the usual heavy penal- 
ties. Major Jones pointed the way to a 
solution, by calling attention to the fact 
that the law required only one premium 
payment, time and a half for work in 
excess of eight hours in any one day. 
With this in mind, Brigham devised a 
plan he thought fair both to labor and 
the War Department. 20 "We feel," he 
explained to an official of the Carpen- 
ters' Brotherhood, "that due to the 
emergency . . . the men should be 
willing to work on a basis of forty hours 



19 CPFF Form i , approved by the ASW, 12 Jul 40, 
art. IX, par. 2. 

so (i) Memo, Bennett for Brigham, 20 Sep 40. 
EHD Files. (2) Memo prepared by Jones, sub: Notes 
on Hours of Labor, 12 Sep 40. OCE Legal Div Lib, 
Instr Re CPFF, I. (3) Incl with Memo, Brigham for 
Bennett, 9 Oct 40. 0_M 600.1 (Labor-Gen). 



a week and eight hours a day for any 
one man, and at least two shifts a day on 
straight time. This would permit stag- 
gering the crews so as to permit work 
every day of the week with two shifts 
and completing the job in time for the 
troops to move in," 21 Loving instructed 
his field officers whenever possible to 
schedule work to eliminate premiums. 22 

Only within certain limits was 
Hartman free to chart his course, for he 
had to comply with directives of The 
Quartermaster General, the Chief of 
Staff, and the Assistant Secretary of War 
and to respect the overall policies of the 
President. These men viewed construc- 
tion from somewhat different angles. To 
General Gregory it was but one of several 
duties. In construction matters he usually 
followed the lead of his superiors. Gen- 
eral Marshall's supervision of the pro- 
gram was, with rare exceptions, exer- 
cised through Generals Moore and 
Reybold. As a rule, the General Staff 
considered construction from the user's 
standpoint rather than from the builder's. 
Judge Patterson, as business head of the 
War Department, looked upon con- 
struction as a most important trust. He 
was anxious to do his job honestly and 
well and to avoid any taint of scandal. 
Roosevelt approached construction ques- 
tions in a spirit compounded of New Deal 
liberalism, political realism, and grave 
concern for national security. Alongside 
the regular authorities there arose in 
mid- 1 940 a new group — advisers, co- 
ordinators, and inspectors, agencies and 
individuals — who were to have great 
impact upon the building program. 



51 Memo, Brigham for H. W. Blumenberg, 2 1 Sep 
40. OCE LR Br, Cp Edwards, Gen Corresp. 

al Constr Div OQMG FF Ltr 2 (n.d.). EHD Files. 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



158 

With the principal new defense agency, 
NDAC, General Hartman had two chief 
points of contact. One was the Office of 
the Coordinator of Defense Purchases, 
headed by Donald M. Nelson, executive 
vice president of Sears, Roebuck & 
Company. Named to this post on 27 
June 1940, Nelson had the duties of pre- 
venting government bureaus from com- 
peting among themselves, advising the 
President on questions of priorities and 
allocations, and expediting procurement 
all along the line. 23 Afterward General 
Hartman commented, "My relations 
with Mr. Nelson were always very 
cordial and he was very complimen- 
tary." With Harrison, the member 
of the commission's staff who was 
most immediately concerned with 
construction, Hartman also dealt 
easily at first. Recalling their associa- 
tion, he wrote, "With reference to 
Mr. Harrison, he was a very plausible 
individual .... I was early 
informed in my relationship with him 
that he was Phi Beta Kappa and held 
an important job in New York City. 
Furthermore, he represented himself as 
being a man anxious to do a good job in 
the program without regard to personal 
matters." 2,4 Hartman's secretary, Mrs. 
Mary B. Pagan, referring to this early 
period, said of Harrison, "He was in 
our office almost every day." 25 While 
the commissioners themselves seldom 
worked directly with the Construction 
Division, they nevertheless helped to 
guide it. In June, shortly after the Presi- 
dent asked NDAC to review important 
purchases, Hillman began urging adop- 



23 (1) CPA, Industrial Mobilization Jot War, p. 35. 
(a) Smith, The Army and Economic Mobilization, p. 530. 
M Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 13. 
11 Pagan Interv, 2 Jun 55. 




Capt. Leslie R. Groves. (Photograph taken 
in 1939.) 



tion of principles to govern the letting 
of contracts. It was to be some time be- 
fore the commissioners agreed what their 
policies should be. 2e 

July marked the entrance on the con- 
struction stage of a man who was to play 
an increasingly prominent role in the 
direction of the program. He was Maj. 
Leslie R. Groves, who became Gregory's 
personal assistant for construction on 
the 22d. A 1918 West Point graduate 
whose career included study at the En- 
gineer School, the Command and Gen- 
eral Staff School, and the Army War 
College; service with troops in the States, 
Hawaii, and Nicaragua; tours with the 
Galveston District, the Missouri River Di- 
vision, the Chief's office, and the War De- 
partment General Staff, Groves had a 
reputation as a doer, a driver, and a 



*• Minutes of the NDAC, pp. 2-3, 82-83. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



159 




Michael J. Madigan 

stickler for duty. His new job, as he de- 
scribed it, "was to inspect in the field, 
spending not over a day at a camp, and 
seeing just what The Quartermaster Gen- 
eral would have seen if he had been 
there." 27 The General Staff had advised 
Gregory to pick a good officer to check on 
the progress of construction. Gregory 
asked for Groves. The two men had been 
on familiar terms for many years — Groves 
was the son of an Army chaplain who 
had been Gregory's close friend — and 
they had a great affection for each other. 
To the officers of the Construction Di- 
vision the appointment came as a shock — 
a slap in the face, many of them called 
it. Most of them regarded Groves as an 
agent for the Engineers, despite the fact 
that such a role would have been com- 
pletely out of keeping with his character. 
Aware of his delicate position, the new 

"Col Groves' Testimony, 30 Apr 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 2, p. 533. 



inspector tried to word his reports so 
that no feelings would be hurt. But the 
hostility against him was too strong. 28 
"It was felt at the time," said Thomas, 
"that this officer's reports were prejudiced 
and unreasonable and given with the 
intent to discredit the . . . Quar- 
termaster Corps in order to help the En- 
gineer Corps to take over the Construc- 
tion Division." 2 * 

As far as construction was concerned, 
one of the most influential figures 
to emerge during this period was 
Michael J. Madigan, who became Judge 
Patterson's special assistant on 23 Sep- 
tember. Able jurist that he was, Patterson 
understood the laws that governed fed- 
eral construction. In Col. John W. N. 
Schulz, his Director of Purchases and 
Contracts, he had, moreover, a faithful 
exponent of the Army regulations. Never- 
theless, both Patterson and Stimson felt 
the need for an adviser who knew the 
score in the public works contracting 
game, someone, as they laughingly put 
it, who could keep them out of jail. Such 
a one was Madigan. Senior partner of 
Madigan-Hyland, engineers of New 
York City, he was a man of humble 
beginnings, a onetime water boy, who 
had become a millionaire by 1940. 
Having been associated with Robert 
Moses in the Triborough Bridge Au- 
thority and other municipal projects 
in New York, he was politically astute. 
He had little formal schooling but was 
endowed with great native intelligence. 
He was also somewhat intuitive, playing 



28 Intervs with Malcolm Pirnie and Stephen F. 
Voorhees, 14 Feb 58; Gen Groves, 19 Jun 56; Col 
Clarence Renshaw, 13 Feb 59; Mr. Sperl, 18 Jun 
56; and Col Donald E. Antes, 3 Jun 58. 

'* Replies to Questionnaire, Thomas to EHD, 31 
May 56. 



160 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



hunches that frequently proved to be 
happy. Brought to Patterson's attention 
by William H. Draper of Dillon, Read 
& Company and by James V. Forrestal, 
who had recently become Under Secre- 
tary of the Navy, Madigan welcomed 
the appointment. He viewed it, he later 
said, as an opportunity to serve the coun- 
try which had given him the chance to 
succeed. Before leaving for Washington, 
he told his partner that their firm would 
have to forego its share of military con- 
tracts. 80 

Madigan's reception was, on the whole, 
a warm one. Patterson gave him carte 
blanche to act on construction matters; 
Harrison expressed the hope that they 
might work closely together; and Gen- 
eral Moore hastened to offer a helping 
hand. Sociable and informal, the New 
Yorker made friends easily. Before long 
he was calling the old-line Regular, 
Colonel Schulz, by his nickname, "Pop." 
Madigan's operating method was in a 
class by itself. He formed no organiza- 
tion and hired no staff. He preferred to 
look around, talk to people, visit proj- 
ects, and then retire to his hotel room 
to mull over his findings and emerge with 
a full-blown plan to give to Patterson. 
Thus began what he later termed "the 
happiest years of my life." There was one 
discordant note. Madigan and Hartman 
did not hit it off. Discovering, as he 
quickly did, that the estimates were far 
too low, Madigan leaped to the wrong 

J * ( i ) Troyer S. Anderson, History of the Office 
of the Under Secretary of War, 1914-1941 (MS), 
VI, 41-42, 52-53- (2) Interv with Michael J. Madi- 
gan, 18 Jun 56. Madigan-Hyland did no work for the 
War Department during Madigan's term of service 
in Washington. The firm's participation in the war 
effort was through contracts with the Navy, the 
largest of which was for a 825,000,000 job at Roose- 
velt Roads Naval Base, Ensenada Honda, Puerto 
Rico. 



conclusion — that Hartman was re- 
sponsible. He put the Chief of Construc- 
tion down as "a nice old gentleman 
who was used to being bawled out by 
colonels' wives" when their furnaces 
broke down. 31 Hartman viewed the 
newcomer with misgivings. He wrote: 

My relationship with Mr. Madigan was 
always on a most guarded basis. I early 
sized him up as an opportunist who was on 
the lookout for a profitable contract for his 
firm in New York City. His name never came 
to my attention through the Construction 
Advisory Committee. However, I was cer- 
tain after having been informed of his rela- 
tion with General Somervell when that 
officer was on duty with WPA and relief 
organizations in New York City that Mr. 
Madigan was out to feather his own 
nest .... Frankly, I did not trust 
him. 32 

Meantime, on 6 September, NDAC 
wrapped up its statement of contracting 
principles. While recognizing speed as 
the prime consideration in placing de- 
fense contracts, the commission empha- 
sized that quality and price should also 
have due weight. Those making awards 
should take into account not only the 
contractor's experience and ability but 
his character and financial standing as 
well. Keeping in mind effects on the 
economy and general welfare, they should 
also try to distribute contracts widely, 
to prevent congestion of transportation 
and utilities systems, and to safeguard 
consumers and labor. Where necessary 
to achieve defense goals, NDAC ap- 
proved using negotiation. In a supple- 
mentary statement, the commissioners set 
forth their ideas on labor more specifi- 
cally. Suggesting that the program might 



n Madigan Interv, i 8 Jun 56. 

31 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 13. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



161 



serve "to reduce unemployment and 
otherwise strengthen the human fiber of 
our Nation," they viewed site selection as 
a vehicle for social good. Moreover, they 
insisted on limiting working hours to 
forty a week until unemployment disap- 
peared. If, in emergencies, projects 
worked more than forty hours or on 
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays, over- 
time and premium rates would be obliga- 
tory. Discrimination because of "age, 
sex, race, or color" would be taboo, the 
commissioners declared. Finally, work- 
men's health and safety would be a grave 
concern and adequate workers' housing 
would be a must. Sent by the President 
to Congress with a message of indorse- 
ment on 13 September, the statement 
henceforth stood as administration 
policy. 33 

To Hartman the statement was a 
mixed blessing. By affirming the need 
for negotiated awards, the commission 
underpinned his position. In the wake of 
the President's message, Patterson re- 
laxed restrictions on CPFF agreements 
to permit their use "in all cases where the 
accomplishment of the national defense 
program may be expedited or aided 
thereby."** Furthermore, the commis- 
sion's criteria for selecting contractors 
were almost identical to some Hartman 
had adopted earlier as a guide for the 
Construction Advisory Committee. 
Nevertheless, from the construction 
standpoint, several of the labor principles 
were impractical. Even before the state- 
ment became public, Secretary Stimson 
had informed the President that short- 



" (1 ) Minutes of the NDAC, pp. 82-83. (2) H Doc 
No. 950, 76th Cong, 3d sess, 13 Sep 40, National 
Defense Contracts. 

" Incl (n,d,), with Memo, Schulz for Gregory, 9 
Oct 40. QM 400.13 (Without Advertising) 1940-43. 



ages of skilled mechanics would force 
suspension of the 40-hour rule. Whether 
the policy on premium wage rates would 
be applicable to construction remained 
to be seen. 33 

As the election campaign gathered 
momentum, the President renewed the 
pledge he had given in May, that there 
would be no "cancellation of the great 
social gains" made under the New Deal. 
At dedication ceremonies for the Chicka- 
mauga Dam on Labor Day, he declared, 
"We understand now what we did not 
understand in 1917 and 191 8 — that 
the building up of the Army and 
Navy . . . ought not to result in 
a waste of our natural resources and at 
the same time ought not to break down 
the gains of labor or the maintenance of 
a living wage." That same day he told 
a gathering at the opening of the Great 
Smoky Mountains National Park: "We 
need not swap the gain of better living 
for the gain of better defense. I propose 
that we retain the one and gain the 
other." 4 * This theme recurred in the 
speeches he delivered during the re- 
maining weeks of the campaign. 37 In 
vain did the War and Navy Depart- 
ments argue against a policy promising 
"all things to all men — adequate na- 
tional defense, full employment, higher 
living standards, the recovery of business, 
and the consolidation of labor's New 
Deal gains, in short, both guns and but- 
ter." 38 



»(i) Notes of Conf in OCofS, 23 Aug 40. OCS, 
Misc Confs, ao May-25 Sep 40. (2) Memo, Brigham 
for Bennett, 7 Oct 40. QM 600.1 (Labor-Gen). 

" Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt, 
'940, PP. 237, 363, 374. 

» Ibid., pp. 412, 493-94, 520, 547, 549-50. 

18 William L. Langer and S. Everett Gleason, The 
Undeclared War, 1940-1341 (New York: Harper and 
Brothers, 1953). P- >&2. 



162 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



At the same time that he refused to 
sacrifice the New Deal on the altar of 
national security, the President extolled 
the progress of defense preparations. 
Branding as false his opponent's allega- 
tion "that the rearming of America is 
slow," he declared, "We are going full 
speed ahead." One of the few military 
programs then well started and, as such, 
one of the prime targets visible to the 
opposition, the Army's construction ef- 
fort came in for a share of Republican 
criticism and Democratic praise. GOP 
standard-bearer Wendell L. Willkie 
charged that new camps would not be 
ready when troops moved in, and on 
30 October Roosevelt countered : 

I cannot help but feel that the most in- 
excusable, most unpatriotic misstatement of 
fact about our Army — a misstatement cal- 
culated to worry mothers of the Nation — is 
the brazen charge that the men called to 
training will not be properly housed. 

The plain fact is that construction on Army 
housing is far ahead of schedule to meet all 
needs, and that by January fifth, next, there 
will be complete and adequate housing in 
this Nation for nine hundred and thirty 
thousand soldiers. 

And so I feel that, very simply and very 
honestly, I can give assurance to the mothers 
and fathers of America that each and every 
one of their boys in training will be well 
housed . . . . M 

It fell to the Construction Division to 
redeem the President's promise. 

A few days after the passage of the 
Selective Service Act, Representative 
Edward T. Taylor told Hartman, "What- 
ever you do, you will be criticized." 40 

3 * Public Papers and Addresses, 1940, pp. 500, 151, 
517. See also: Memos, Lt Col R. H. Brennaii, OGofS, 
for SGS, 3, 4 Oct 40. OCS, Notes on Confs, 26 Sep 40; 
Samuel I. Rosenman, Working With Roosevelt (New 
York: Harper and Brothers, 195a), pp. 243-44. 

40 H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d sess, Hearings on Third Supplemental National Defense 
Appropriation Bill for 1941, p. 59. 



As time went on, Taylor's prediction 
seemed increasingly likely to come true. 
Besieged by numerous and ofttimes con- 
flicting demands, Hartman could not 
satisfy everyone. But he could and did 
forge ahead, providing plans, acquiring 
land, and placing construction quickly 
under contract. 

Engineering 

The work of converting appropria- 
tions into finished construction began 
in the Engineering Branch. To this, 
his largest unit, General Hartman gave 
the task of establishing the common 
yardsticks or standards of design that 
would govern almost every feature of the 
program — buildings, roads, runways, 
docks, power plants, trackage, drainage, 
water supply and sewerage systems, 
plumbing, lighting, heating, fire protec- 
tion, installed equipment, and the like. It 
was Lamphere's duty, as chief of Engi- 
neering, first to consider the War Depart- 
ment's policies, the users' requirements, 
the money allotted, the time allowed, the 
condition of materials markets, the availa- 
bility of labor, and the cost of main- 
tenance and, then, with these factors 
in mind, to develop blueprints, specifi- 
cations, bills of materials, estimates, and 
layouts for projects of virtually every 
type. These plans would go to jobs 
throughout the country. Although Con- 
structing Quartermasters would have 
considerable leeway in adapting stand- 
ards to local conditions, Hartman in- 
sisted that fundamental changes be 
cleared with Washington. He thus pre- 
served the system of centralized design 
most construction men thought proper. 41 

" OQMG Office Order agA, 15 Jun 40. QM oao 
(Gonstr). 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



163 




Frank E. Lamphere 

The new Engineering Branch was 
built upon the solid foundation of the 
peacetime organization. Consisting 
during the late 1930's of a few carefully 
selected officers and some four hundred 
civilians, the division's technical staff 
ranked among the best in Washington. 
During August 1940 Lamphere reor- 
ganized this force along the lines of 
Colonel Gunby's World War I outfit. 
{Chart 4) The main work of design and 
engineering he assigned to six sections — 
Civil, Mechanical, and Sanitary En- 
gineering, Mobilization Structures, Pro- 
graming, and Estimating. To maintain 
close liaison with his clients, he ap- 
pointed nine technical advisers: a 
hospital specialist to work with the 
Medical Corps, an industrial expert to 
work with Ordnance, and so on. To 
expedite the flow of vital information 
to the field, he named six engineering 
co-ordinators, each responsible for one 



or more corps areas or departments. A 
majority of the top posts went to division 
veterans. Maj. Elsmere J. Walters, a 
construction officer since 191 8, became 
Lamphere's executive. Like Walters, four 
of the principal civilians, Steinle, 
Leisenring, Drischler, and Anderson, 
had been on the job since World War I. 
Two others, Gramm and Engle, had 
between them a total of thirty-nine years 
with the Quartermaster Corps. Though 
younger than their colleagues, Captains 
Dreyer and Lyon, both West Point 
graduates with advanced degrees from 
leading schools of technology, were sea- 
soned professionals. Most of the advisers 
and co-ordinators also came from the 
permanent roster, as did key assistants 
throughout the organization. 42 But, al- 
though they lent great strength to the 
emergency effort, the experienced men 
were too few to cope with the avalanche 
of work that crashed in on them. 

Beginning in July 1940, Lamphere 
staged a vigorous drive for recruits. 
Among the first to join up was Richard 
H. Tatlow III, a junior partner of 
Harrington and Cortelyou, who became 
deputy chief. "A very smart, young, 
peppy fellow," Lamphere said of him. 
Another early arrival was Arthur L. 
Sherman, a distinguished sanitary en- 
gineer and veteran of the Construction 
Division of the Army, who agreed to 
help with the hiring of professional 
firms. The list grew longer. Frederick 
H. Warren, a young West Point graduate 
and former Engineer officer, became 
chief of co-ordinators. Fred S. Poorman, 



45 (1 ) OCE Mil Constr, Comparison of Prewar and 
Postwar Pers Reqmts, r Jun 47. EHD Files, (a) 
Orgn Chart of Engrg Br, 26 Aug 40. EHD Files. (3) 
Engrg Br Constr Div OQMG Office Bull 39-1940, 
5 Sep 40. Engrg Br Files, Info Office File I. 




is 

si i 

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31 





ESTIMATING 
Chief 
Maj. E. H. Boeckh 






PROGRAMING 
Chief 
Capt. A. W, Lyon 






MOBILIZATION 
STRUCTURES 
Chief 
Capt. C. F. Dreyer 






_»C5 

<Z | 






CIVIL 
ENGINEERING 

Chief 
A. L. Anderson 






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1 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



165 



an able highway engineer who had been 
with Lamphere on the Pennsylvania 
Turnpike project, took over the planning 
of transportation systems. Maj. Robert 
B. Field, who had retired in 1938 after 
more than twenty years as a construction 
officer, returned as Walters' assistant. A 
Reservist who headed a nationwide 
building costs service, Maj. Everard H. 
Boeckh, came in as chief of the Esti- 
mating Section. And there were many, 
many more. In fact, some four hundred 
men responded to the call. Small wonder 
that Lamphere likened the growth of the 
Engineering Branch to an explosion. 43 
Just as private architects and engi- 
neers first consult their clients, so 
Lamphere started with War Department 
policies. Very early in the program, on 
27 May 1940, General Marshall an- 
nounced that G—4 would be the arbiter 
on construction matters. During the 
next few weeks, General Moore laid down 
principles to govern emergency work. 
Emphasizing the need for speed first, 
economy second, and serviceability last, 
he prescribed these rules: hold con- 
struction to the minimum; make maxi- 
mum use of existing buildings; and erect 
no permanent structures where tem- 
poraries will suffice. At new stations 
hospitals would be temporary, but at 
old-line posts permanent barracks would 
serve as wards. Wherever possible, Regu- 
lars would double up to make room for 
Guardsmen and selectees. Additional 
housing would be of mobilization type, 
tent camps in the South and cantonments 
in the North. Both buildings and utilities 
would have a five-year life. Moore cut 
requirements to the bone. Family quar- 
ters, garages, swimming pools, painting, 



Lamphere Interv, 26 Jun 56. 



landscaping, and all such nonessential 
features were out for the duration — or 
so he said at the beginning. While recog- 
nizing that munitions plants, depots, and 
communications systems would have to 
be at least semipermanent, Moore in- 
sisted that there be no embellishments. 44 
Describing to Congressman John Taber 
what the new Ordnance works would be 
like, General Wesson said on 25 July: 
"We will have simple but durable plants. 
We figure that this emergency is not 
here today and gone tomorrow, and that 
these facilities should be built on a basis 
that would make them available for the 
next twenty years." Pointedly he added, 
"There are to be no high-fallutin' gar- 
goyles on these buildings." 45 

Translating Moore's broad policies 
into detailed plans and specifications 
was the Construction Division's respon- 
sibility. Too vast and too complex for 
Lamphere's group to tackle alone, the 
job was shared with private firms hired 
under negotiated contracts. Industrialists 
provided many of the basic designs for 
munitions plants. Nearly every project 
of any size, whether a plant, camp, air- 
field, or depot, had its own architect- 
engineer to fit standard plans and layouts 
to the site, design utilities and road nets, 
and supervise construction. Concerns 
specializing in particular fields of engi- 
neering occasionally acted as consultants. 
For example, two nationally known 
firms of sanitary engineers, Metcalf & 
Eddy of Boston and Greeley & Hansen 

44 (i)Memo, SGS for G-4, 27 May 40. G-4/31751. 
(2) WD Ltr AG 705 (6-5-40) M-D-M to Chiefs 
Arms and Servs, 7 Jun 40. G— 4/31757. (3) WD Ltr 
AG 600.12 (6-15-40) M-D-M, 15 Jun 40. G-4/ 

■** H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d sess, Hearings . . . on the Second Supplemental 
National Defense Appropriation Bill for 1941, p. 203. 



166 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



of Chicago, reviewed plans for sewerage 
and sewage disposal at fifty camps and 
airfields and advised architect-engineers 
how best to handle this important aspect 
of design. All this help notwithstanding, 
the Engineering Branch carried a heavy 
load, doing much of the planning itself 
and overseeing the rest. 

When Lamphere took over in July, 
Major Walters was one jump ahead of 
the directives, which were starting to 
trickle in. Since March, when Hartman 
had begun his salvage operation, the 
mobilization drawings had come a long 
way. At the Fort Myer warehouse, a 
group of forty men, headed by Major 
Field, had redrawn most of the 700 
series plans. Some technical difficulties 
had yet to be ironed out. One particu- 
larly thorny problem involved heating 
and steam distribution systems for mo- 
bilization hospitals, the largest of which 
would include some eighty buildings 
connected by 100-foot corridors. Paint 
shops in motor vehicle repair buildings 
posed another tough problem: the ques- 
tion here was how to minimize fire 
hazards in these large wooden structures. 
Serious complications sprang from the 
creation of the Armored Force, which 
needed wider roads and more water 
than older branches, and radically dif- 
ferent layouts as well. By midsummer 
requests were coming in for extras — 
guest houses, service clubs, dental clinics, 
and field houses — which Moore had 
recently authorized or indicated he 
might authorize soon. Orders of this 
kind were comparatively easy to fill, 
since standard details could often be 
incorporated into the blueprints. A flock 
of orders for Air Corps structures — 
hangars, repair shops, parachute drying 
towers, bombsight storage buildings, and 



the like — were harder to execute, for 
they required much original design. 
Challenging though they sometimes were, 
these purely technical jobs were well 
within the staff's capabilities. To the 
men in the crowded drafting rooms, the 
major stumbling block was the necessity 
of doing everything so fast. 46 Meanwhile, 
their superiors grappled with problems 
of another sort. 

During the fall of 1 940, as it drew les- 
sons from military operations abroad, 
the General Staff continually reorganized 
the Army. Construction suffered in the 
process. Looking back on the early 
months of defense preparations, Nurse 
reflected: "One of the principal delays 
in getting off to as early a start as we de- 
sired on cantonment construction was 
due to G— 3 being unable to arrive at 
a definite table of organization. It was 
constantly being changed." 47 The size 
of the infantry company, the basic unit 
around which most of the camps were 
designed, was not firmly fixed until 
construction was under way. Original 
orders from G-4, issued in June, en- 
visaged a company of 125 men, and 
Lamphere planned accordingly. He laid 
out cantonments in blocks consisting of 
two 63-man barracks plus a mess hall, 
a recreation building, and a supply room 
of appropriate size; he left space for a 
third barracks should the need for one 
arise. When, on 1 October, G— 3 set the 
company's war strength at 217, he had 
to redo the layouts to make room for a 



48 (1) Intervs with Gen Dreyer, 27 Feb 59; W. R. 
Deiningcr, 13 Mar 59; S. Sandler, 5 Mar 59. (2) 
Ltr, Groves to OCMH, 22 Jul 55. EHD Files. (3) 
Memo, Anderson for Violante, 1 1 Oct 40. QM 
600.1 (Mobl). (4) ENR, October 23, 1941, pp. 
1 12-14. 

47 Ltr, Nurse to OCMH, 9 Mar 55. EHD Files. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



167 



fourth barracks and larger messing, recre- 
ation, and supply facilities. So late were 
decisions on the makeup of the new tank 
companies, and so scant the information 
as to what they would require, that he 
could complete no typical diagrams of 
armored division camps during 1940. 
These instances were by no means unique. 
October marked the publication of 35 
new tables of organization and equip- 
ment; November, of 379; and December, 
of 30. Tables for units of thirteen types 
did not appear until January 1 941. 48 

Once requirements were clear, plan- 
ning of camps and cantonments pro- 
ceeded fairly smoothly, for the Army 
was on familiar ground; the design of 
munitions plants was vastly more com- 
plicated. Structures had to accommodate 
complex processes and specialized ma- 
chinery. Roads, railroads, utilities, shops, 
and laboratories had to be on a par with 
those at other large plants in heavy in- 
dustry. Designs for storage magazines 
reflected the ever-present danger of ex- 
plosion. Security against sabotage was 
always a consideration. Plans on hand 
at the beginning of the emergency were 
inadequate. On becoming assistant chief 
of the Industrial Service, Facilities, in 
June 1940, Lt. Col. Levin H. Campbell 
found that the Ordnance Department 
had very little in the way of factory lay- 
outs, equipment diagrams, and building 
specifications. The situation called into 
being a three-way partnership of using 
service, Quartermaster, and industry. 
The half dozen companies with exper- 
ience in munitions manufacture served 



"(0 WD Ltr AG 600.12 (6-15-40) M-D-M, 15 
Jun 40. G-4/31751, (a) Answers to Questionnaire, 
Violante to EHD, 25 Sep 57. (3) Dreyer Interv, 
27 Feb 59. (4) T/O 7-17, 1 Oct 40. (5) List of T/O's, 
1 Jan 41. 



as design contractors. Engineers from 
other large industrial concerns, after a 
period of training at Army arsenals, also 
planned production units. Lamphere 
furnished blueprints for magazines, ware- 
houses, shops, administration buildings, 
workers' housing, transportation systems, 
and utilities. The using service and the 
Quartermaster Corps supervised the 
operation jointly. All plans were subject 
to review by the Construction Division, 
but, in order to expedite the work, 
Hartman told his field officers to start 
building first and get his O.K. later. 
Control by the using service was much 
more rigid. No plan could go to an Ord- 
nance project until the Wilmington sub- 
office had approved it.* 9 "We are dealing 
with smokeless powder, with high ex- 
plosives of all types," Campbell ex- 
plained. "We are all in fear and trem- 
bling" lest the plants "blow up on us 
due to poor workmanship or poor knowl- 
edge or lack of 'know-how'." 50 Cumbrous 
though the system was, it produced re- 
sults. By November Lamphere could 
start work on standard designs for in- 
dustrial plants. 51 

Although they were then regarded as 
the least difficult, technically, of all 
defense projects, the new Air Corps 
installations produced many headaches. 
Under the regulations, General Arnold's 
office could set functional requirements, 
make initial estimates, and recommend 
layouts. Actually, the airmen were dab- 



" (0 Ltr, Campbell to OCMH, 10 Mar 55. EHD 
Files. (2) Notes of Conf, Hartman, Campbell, 
Harrison, et al., 13 Aug 40. QM 095 (Hercules 
Powder Co.). (3) Ltr, Constr Div to CQM St. Louis 
OP, 2 Nov 40. 635 (St. Louis OP) Part 1 . 

so Campbell's Testimony, 26 Feb 41. In May 
Comm Hearings, Part I, p. 187. 

61 Ltr, Constr Div to CQM Iowa OP, 5 Nov 40. 
635 (Iowa OP) I. 



168 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



bling in design and had been for years. 
Col. Frank M. Kennedy, chief of Arnold's 
Buildings and Grounds Division and 
himself a graduate engineer, insisted on 
furnishing plans to the Quartermaster 
Corps. The Construction Division tried 
to go along with Kennedy's ideas but 
could not always do so. Some of his de- 
signs, according to Leisenring, had a 
safety factor of zero. Others, supposedly 
for temporary structures, incorporated 
many permanent features and carried 
estimates reflecting funds available 
rather than funds required: one drawing 
for an administration building came 
bearing a price tag of $13,260; Lam- 
phere's men figured the cost at $77,000. 
Referred to the General Staff, plans of 
this sort usually met a quick death at 
the hands of G—4. Efforts by the Air 
Corps to freeze specifications for runway 
pavements before service tests were run 
were blocked by Colonel Reybold. Al- 
though helpful at times, Kennedy's 
incursions into design frequently cost the 
Engineering Branch a good deal of lost 
motion. 58 

Station hospitals proved to be a 
hornet's nest. Part of the trouble stemmed 
from General Moore's policy of using 
permanent barracks as wards, a policy 
adopted over General Hartman's ob- 
jections. Barracks, Hartman had pointed 
out, were seldom near permanent sta- 
tion hospitals, which housed labora- 
tories, clinics, and operating rooms. 
Besides, conversion would cost far more 



"(1) AR 95-5, 8 Jun 40. (2) Ritchie Interv, 26 
Apr 56; Leisenring Interv, 5 Jun 57. (3) Ltr, CQM 
Mitchel Fid to OQMG, 8 May 40, and lnds. 600.1 
(Mitchel Fid) Part 1. (4) Ltr, OQMG to TAG, 5 
Sep 40, and lnds. AG 600.12 (1-23-36) (1) (sec. 
i-D Constr Program). (5) D/S, Reybold to TQMG, 
9 Sep 40. G-4/30552-4. (6) Ltr, OCofAC to TAG, 1 
Nov 40, and lnds. 686 (Airfields) Part 5. 



than temporary construction. The Sur- 
geon General, Maj. Gen. James C. 
Magee, also opposed the plan at first, 
but, pressed by Moore, he at length gave 
in. Announced on 7 June 1 940, the policy 
drew immediate protests from the field. 
Nevertheless, G-4 held to the decision 
for nearly four months. 53 Finally, on 20 
September, Magee appealed to Moore's 
successor in G-4, Colonel Reybold. 
Calling attention to "the patent im- 
practicability of providing appropriate 
hospitalization in this way," he asked 
that the policy be revoked. 54 Reybold 
agreed, and on the 26th ordered the 
building of temporary hospitals at per- 
manent Army posts. Much time and en- 
gineering effort had been wasted. Sud- 
den jumps in requirements were a further 
vexation. As the troop distribution 
changed, many hospitals had to expand. 
One planned for Fort Custer grew from 
350 to 750 beds; one for Fort Bragg, 
from 200 to 2,000. To make matters 
worse, in September the General Staff 
directed Hartman to redesign all hos- 
pitals so that they could later be en- 
larged by 20 percent. 55 

Difficulties notwithstanding, the En- 
gineering Branch delivered the goods. 
By fall its catalogue of standard blue- 
prints listed barracks for 25, 45, and 63 

sa ( 1 ) Memo, Hartman for G—4, 28 May 40. 
^4)3^757- (2) Ltr, SGO to TAG, 29 May 40. (3) 
Memo, Constr Sec G—4 for Moore, 5 Jun 40. Both in 
QM 632 (Dispensaries) 1941. (4) Clarence Mc- 
Kittrick Smith, The Medical Department: Hospitaliza- 
tion and Evacuation, Z one °J Interior, UNITED STATES 
ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Washington, T956), 
pp. 15-18. Cited hereinafter as Smith, Hospitalization 
and Evacuation, 

M Memo, Magee for Reybold, 20 Sep 40. G-4/ 

3"757- 

w ( 1 ) WD Ltr AG 600.12 (9-25-40) M-D to Arms 
and Serva, 26 Sep 40. 600.1 2 A Part 9. (2) Smith, 
Hospitalization and. Evacuation, pp. 13-14, 18. (3) 
QM 632 Cp Custer and Ft Bragg. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



169 




Mess Hall, 1,000-man Capacity (700 Series), Camp Grant, Illinois 



men, mess halls with seating capacities 
of up to 1,000, hospitals ranging in size 
from 25 to 2,000 beds, dispensaries, 
guard houses, cold storage plants, fire 
stations, control towers, telephone ex- 
changes, freight terminals, and nu- 
merous other structures. Specifications 
were available for everything from flag- 
poles to 500,000-gallon gasoline storage 
and distribution systems. Layouts for 
most types of ground and air stations 
were in the hands of Constructing Quar- 
termasters. To be sure, a number of the 
plans left something to be desired. 
Thoroughness had necessarily been sac- 
rificed to speed. In the rush to send draw- 
ings to the field, some details had gone 
unchecked. Lack of funds had occasion- 
ally dictated the choice of inferior ma- 
terials; for example, the 55-pound roof- 
ing paper specified for the 700 series 
buildings was the lightest and cheapest 
on the market. There were, moreover, 
several gaps in the plans, one of the most 



notable being the absence of a layout for 
armored camps. But, by and large, 
planning was well and quickly done. 

Once he had established engineering 
standards, Lamphere faced an exacting 
task in getting them accepted. Interest 
in the Quartermaster plans was wide- 
spread and intense. Producers and sup- 
pliers of building materials had a great 
deal at stake. According to the estimators' 
rule of thumb, fifty cents of every con- 
struction dollar would go for materials. 
How orders totaling roughly half a bil- 
lion would be apportioned among the 
materials industries depended on Quar- 
termaster plans. The various construc- 
tion trades would also be affected, car- 
penters benefiting if wood were speci- 
fied, bricklayers, if masonry. Congress, 
too, was naturally attentive. In addition, 
a number of prominent persons were 
intent upon enhancing the beauty and 
amenities of the camps. Among them 
was Mrs. Roosevelt. All these groups 



170 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




watched developments closely. It was 
a rare engineering decision that failed 
to call forth comment from one or more 
of them. 

Howls of protest greeted the announce- 
ment that the Army would build tem- 
porary frame housing. Manufacturers 
of excluded products promptly attacked 
the 700 series. The Clay Products As- 
sociation of the Southwest warned 
against "spending Federal funds in a 
frenzy of excitement and haste, as was 
regrettably done during the World War," 
in other words, against building camps 
of perishable wood, suggesting instead 
the "calm, wise, and business-like" pro- 
cedure of "investing" in permanent build- 
ings of brick and tile. 66 Makers of con- 
crete blocks, cement siding, structural 
steel, asbestos sheeting, and prefabricated 
buildings took up the cry for less restric- 
tive designs. The bricklayers union de- 

** Ltr, Clay Products Assn. of the Southwest to 
Sen Tom Connally, 5 Jul 40. QM 65a 1922-40. 



manded work for its members. Congress- 
men, at the urging of constituents, asked 
the War Department to reconsider. Ad- 
vocates of sturdier construction appeared 
in some quarters of the Army. Lt. Gen. 
Hugh A. Drum of the Second Corps 
Area strongly recommended that more 
durable materials than wood be used 
in his command. Major Groves entered 
a plea for heavier roofing and higher 
grade screening. Dissatisfaction spread. 
Before long, Captain Dreyer was spend- 
ing much of his time listening to people 
who visited Lamphere's office to ad- 
vocate changes in plans. 57 

As the program unfolded, suggestions 
multiplied. Senator Rufus C. Holman of 



57 (1) QM 652 1922-40. (2) QM 600.1 (Prefabs) 
1937-41. (3) Lamphere Interv, 26Jun 56; Leisenring 
Interv, 5 jun 57 ; Dreyer Interv, 27 Feb 59. (4) Ltr, 
Stimson to Rep Hatton W. Sumners, 26 Aug 40. 
SW Files, Constr Work, 251-650. (5) Ltr, Drum 
to TAG, 30 Jul 40. QM 600.1 (2d GA Tng Gps) 
T 937- (6) Memo, Groves for Gregory, 3 Aug 40. Opns 
Br Files, Rpts of Insp. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



171 



Oregon, protesting plans for a steel arch 
hangar, argued the advantages of timber 
trusses. Mrs. Roosevelt recommended 
that the streets of the camps be curved. 
Major Groves, after a visit to Fort Ben- 
ning one hot summer day, when water 
consumption exceeded 180 gallons per 
man, wished to up water allowances 
and make provision for possible future 
increases in camp populations. Like 
many proposals Lamphere received, these 
were impractical. Because the new hang- 
ars were huge affairs, 275 feet across and 
90 feet high, timber framing would cost 
much more than steel. Curved streets, 
however attractive, would be longer, and 
therefore more costly and less quickly 
traversed, than the straight, right-angled 
roads that had characterized military 
camps since Roman times. 68 After study- 
ing Groves' suggestion for more ample 
water supplies, Hartman reminded 
Gregory: "This office is constantly la- 
boring under demand of higher authority 
to keep costs to a minimum .... 
Though we invariably provide a quite 
liberal average to provide for any nom- 
inal increase, we could not well defend 
an expenditure of many thousands of 
dollars to provide a supply for an unan- 
ticipated increase of population." 59 Now 
and then a suggestion turned up that 
seemed worth trying. Manufacturers 
of steel siding and window sash who 
contended they could beat the price of 
competing wood products got a chance 
to prove it. But occasional changes of 
this kind did little to quiet the general 
uproar. In fact, lumber men raised a 



*» (1) CE 41 1.1 (Lumber) I. (2) Lamphere Interv, 
26 Jun 56. (3) Memo, Groves for Gregory, 3 Aug 40. 
Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp. 

M Memo, Hartman for Gregory, 12 Aug 40. Opns 
Br Files, Rpts of Insp. 



frightful clamor when steel men bid 
against them. 60 

To outsiders who challenged its build- 
ing plans, the War Department pre- 
sented a united front. Secretary Stimson 
answered advocates of permanent hous- 
ing by explaining that camps had to be 
designed for economy and for speed of 
erection, and he gave two reasons why 
barracks of brick, tile, and concrete 
blocks were out of the question. First, 
durable materials would cost half again 
as much as wood; and, second, their 
use would add 10 to 15 percent to the 
time needed for construction. Judge Pat- 
terson told makers of prefabs that mobili- 
zation buildings would be cheaper to con- 
struct and to maintain than portables, 
Hartman offered additional reasons for 
rejecting durable materials and prefabs. 
Concrete would be too damp. Prefabs 
were not available in large quantities and 
would be difficult to transport. New plans 
and specifications would be necessary and 
it would take six weeks to prepare them. 
Refusals to make changes in the plans 
were softened by assurances that nearly 
every product would find a market in the 
program. General Gregory promised sup- 
pliers of brick, tile, and steel that their 
materials would be in brisk demand for 
depots, munitions plants, and Air Corps 
technical buildings. 61 These arguments 
fell on deaf ears. The protests continued. 

The commotion eventually caught 
the attention of NDAC. As a champion 
of the view that all should share the 



*°Dreyer Interv, 27 Feb 59; Interv with Everard 
H. Boeckh, 21 Jun 59. 

41 (1) Ltr, Stimson to Sen Elbert D. Thomas, 28 
Aug 40. G-4/31932. (2) Ltr, ASW to Green Lumber 
Co., Laurel, Miss., c. 20 Jul 40. QM 600. 1 (Prefab 
Bldgs) 1937. (3) Memo, Hartman for G— 4, 19 Jul 40. 
G— 4/31409. (4) Ltr, Gregory to Sen Tom Connally, 
31 Jul 40. QM 652 1922-40. 



172 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



benefits of the defense program, the com- 
mission could not ignore charges that the 
Army was excluding certain products. 
Concern lest orders be unduly con- 
centrated led Harrison to hire one of 
the country's leading architect-engineers, 
Holabird & Root of Chicago, to make a 
comprehensive review of the 700 series 
plans. On 18 September Holabird & 
Root submitted a report, praising the 
Quartermaster drawings but suggesting 
the possibility of alternate designs based 
on such materials as terra cotta, cinder 
blocks, concrete, and asbestos. They 
also recommended preserving the 
natural beauty of the sites. Major Nurse 
hastened to remind the field that typical 
layouts should follow contours of the 
land and that trees left standing would 
camouflage camps and improve their 
appearance. The commission had acted 
too late to effect further changes at jobs 
scheduled for completion in 1940 or 
early 1941. Time did not permit prepara- 
tion of new designs for projects already 
under way. Hartman and Harrison agreed 
that, for the time being, construction had 
to proceed on the basis of existing 
plans. 82 

Painting interests benefited by the only 
major change made after 1 September. 
General Moore originally excluded paint 
from the cantonment plans in order to 
help reduce requests to Congress. His 
dictum provoked emphatic protests. 
Hartman advised Gregory that "tem- 
porary construction should be given 
protective painting as soon as erected 



'* (r) Notes of Conf in Harrison's office on 18 Sep 
40, dated 24 Sep 40. Q_M 652 (Canton Constr) 1941. 
(2) Ltr, Nurse to Architect-Engineers, 28 Sep 40. 
QM 652 (Cp McClellan). (3) Memo, Harrison for 
Patterson, 16 Oct 40. Madigan Files, 101.1 (Canton 
Design & Constr). 



in order to reduce maintenance costs." 68 
Col. Stephen J. Chamberlin, chief of the 
Construction Section, G— 4, held the 
same opinion. 84 The Painting and Decor- 
ating Contractors of America and the 
Brotherhood of Painters, Decorators, and 
Paperhangers asked NDAC to intercede. 
In an appeal to Harrison, George S. 
Stuart of the contractors' association 
maintained that no building was com- 
plete without paint. Paint, he wrote, 
made a building habitable, beautified it, 
made it sanitary, protected it from in- 
sects and termites, dampproofed it, and, 
to some extent, rendered it resistant to 
fire. On a sentimental note, he added, 
"It will be a forlorn contrast for our boys 
to be brought from their painted and 
decorated homes and offices to Govern- 
ment buildings that are neither pro- 
tected nor beautified with paint." 66 
Harrison urged the Army to paint. And 
so did Mrs. Roosevelt. With no funds 
to pay for such a project, G-4 asked 
Hartman to see about painting the 
camps with WPA labor. But before the 
Army could take any action, the Presi- 
dent intervened. On an inspection of 
Camp Meade, Maryland, he said he 
wanted the buildings painted. Assured 
of Roosevelt's backing, the General 
Staff decided to let contractors do the 
job using skilled workmen. On 4 No- 
vember Reybold instructed Hartman to 
include painting in all contracts for 
temporary buildings. This directive re- 
sulted in the largest order for exterior 
paint in the history of the paint industry, 



,s Memo, Hartman for Gregory, 20 Aug 40. Opns 
Br Files, Rpts of Insp. 

M Memo, Chamberlin for Col Mallon, 8 Jul 40. 
G-4/31751. 

" Ltr, Stuart to Harrison, 1 Oct 40. Madigan 
Files, 1 01. 1 (Canton Design & Constr). 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



173 



945,062 gallons, and a deficit of $11 to 
$12 million for the Construction Divi- 
sion. 68 

The most serious challenge to Quar- 
termaster designs came from within the 
War Department itself. In a situation 
where every day counted, Hartman had 
told Lamphere to complete standards 
quickly and rush them to the field. Such 
minor adjustments as were needed could 
be made locally. This arrangement, 
however expeditious, was unwelcome 
to the chiefs of the using services, and 
particularly to Arnold and Magee, who 
were reluctant to let their field repre- 
sentatives settle questions of layout and 
design. The Surgeon General forced the 
issue early in the program by insisting 
on numerous changes in standards for 
mobilization hospitals, plans his of- 
fice had helped prepare and had once 
approved. Blueprints were ready for 
mailing to the field, when Lt. Col. John 
R. Hall, chief of the Surgeon's Hospital 
Construction and Repair Division, de- 
manded more toilets, storerooms, and 
offices. These changes took several weeks. 
Hall next served notice that he would 
furnish a layout for each station hospital. 
Since no two of his layouts proved to be 
alike, the Engineering Branch had the 
troublesome job of custom-designing 
heating systems. The Air Corps' Colonel 
Kennedy followed Hall's example. As 
delays developed (the Camp Custer 
hospital waited a month for plans from 
Washington), and as confusion mounted 
(the Orlando Air Base hospital went 

" (1 ) Memo, Constr Div OQMG for G~4, 17 Jan 
41. Opns Br Files, Painting. (2) Lamphere Interv, 
26 Jun 56. (3) Red with Memo, Reybold for TAG, 2 
Nov 40. G-4/31751. (4) WD Ltr AG 600.12 (11-4- 
40) M-D-M to Arms and Svcs, 4 Nov 40. 600. 12A 
Part 10. (5) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 
41, p. 62. (6) Truman Comm Hearings, Part 1, p. 1 75. 



through three redesigns), Hartman ap- 
pealed to G— 4. The result was a "freeze 
order." Declaring most changes un- 
necessary, the General Staff on 22 
August decreed no further revision of 
the standards without G-4 approval. 
Typical plans and layouts were to go, 
without further ado, to be adapted in 
the field. 67 

Heavy responsibilities devolved on 
Constructing Quartermasters, Super- 
intending development of detailed lay- 
outs, reviewing work of architect- 
engineers, and helping to plan utilities 
systems and design footings for typical 
structures were but ,some of their tech- 
nical duties. Hartman directed his field 
officers to use initiative. When, in their 
judgment, changes in the standards 
would speed completion, save money, 
or improve the finished product, they 
were to act promptly, forwarding re- 
vised plans to Washington as soon as 
possible. At the same time, Hartman 
expected Constructing Quartermasters 
to resist local pressures for changes that 
might slow progress, increase costs, or 
lower construction quality. He reminded 
them that they were answerable only to 
him. 68 Seasoned construction officers — 
Regulars like Colonel Thomas, who 
left Washington in September to head 
the Ogden and Vicinity office in Utah, 
Lt. Col. Lawrence L. Simpson, the 
veteran CQM at Fort Bragg, and Capt. 
Carl M. Sciple, the West Point careerist 
at Springfield Armory — understood their 



"(0 WD Ltr AG 600.12 (8-15-40) M-D to 
TSG, 17 Aug 40, and Inds. QM 600.1 (Designs). 
(2) D/F, G-4 to TAG, 19 Aug 40. G-4/31840. (3) 
G-4/31751. (4) WD Ltr AG 6oo.r2 (8-19-40) M-D 
to TQMG, 22 Aug 40. QM 600.1 (Mobl). 

" OQMG Manual, Supplement to Guide for 
GQM's, Rev 1940, Covering FF Projects, 27 Aug 40, 
pp. 1-2. EHD Files. 



174 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



assignment and knew how to carry it 
out. Inexperienced project officers had 
to learn by doing. 

Real Estate 

Recalling the role of the Real Estate 
Branch in the defense build-up, Colonel 
Valliant said, "No one could move until 
we got the land for them." 69 The size 
of the job was unprecedented. On 30 
June 1940 the War Department owned 
about two million acres of land, the 
accumulation of a century and a half 
of gradual expansion. Needed at once 
were eight million more — fourteen times 
the area acquired in World War I. New 
Ordnance and Chemical Warfare plants 
required 263,000 acres; camps, firing 
ranges, hospitals, and depots, over two 
and one-half million; airfields and bomb- 
ing ranges, five and one-third million. 
At scores of locations in some forty-two 
states the Army reached out for land. 70 
The Real Estate Branch was under enor- 
mous pressure for speed. Colonel Burns, 
concerned primarily with industrial pre- 
paredness, warned Valliant, "If you 
delay this munitions program, you will 
be crucified for it"; 71 and Colonel 
Chamberlin, speaking for the General 
Staff, told him "that no matter how fast 
he worked, it would not be fast 
enough." 72 

In the late spring of 1940 Colonel 
Valliant made plans for expediting a 
large-scale effort. His first big problem 
was personnel. Mirroring its peacetime 



Valliant Interv, 1 1 Jun 56. 

,0 (1 ) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41 , 
p, 37. (2) Real Estate PR 33, 30 Sep 41. 

71 Comments of Col Valliant, 24, 28 Mar 55. EHD 
Files. 

7 * Memo, Chamberlin for Moore, 1 o Jun 40. G—4/ 
30881 Sec I. 



mission, the Real Estate Branch num- 
bered only two officers and seventeen 
civilians. The executive, Capt. Clinton 
J. Harrold, had ably assisted Valliant 
in the 20o,ooo-acre program of 1939. 
Acquisition expert William F. Turton 
and leasing chief Edward T. Lindner, 
both veterans of the World War I Real 
Estate Service, directed experienced 
staffs. But a mere handful of specialists 
could not cope with the huge task ahead. 
In 1 91 8 the Real Estate Service had 
needed 150 persons for a program far 
smaller than the one now contemplated. 
On 1 o June 1 940 Valliant explained to 
Colonel Chamberlin how he proposed 
to muster an adequate force. He en- 
visioned a nationwide network of agents. 
Although the chief of Real Estate was 
the only man who could bind the War 
Department on land transactions, corps 
area quartermasters had for many years 
assisted in arranging leases and disposing 
of surplus property. Their duties would 
now include some purchasing negotia- 
tions. CQM's would also serve as agents. 
Meanwhile, Valliant planned to expand 
the Real Estate Branch as rapidly as he 
could. Men from the central office would 
handle the most complicated jobs. All 
agents would report directly to Washing- 
ton, where Valliant and his top assist- 
ants would stand ready to speed to any 
site where trouble threatened. 73 

After two decades of meager budgets, 
the Real Estate Branch was suddenly 
glutted with funds. Within a 4-month 
period, Valliant received some $52,600,- 
000 for land acquisition. During June 



73 (1 ) Lt Col David B. Gideon, History of Military 
Real Estate Program, 1939-1945 (MS), pp. 10, 13. 
EHD Files. Cited hereinafter as Gideon, Mil RE. 
(2) Memo, Hartman for Valliant, 25 Jun 40. QM 
601. 1 (Misc) 1940, 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



175 



1940 Congress voted $8,239,824 for 
ground and air reservations. In July 
Ordnance turned over nearly $28,000,000 
for plant sites. With passage of the Na- 
tional Guard and Selective Service Acts 
in August and September, $16,374,885 
became available for land. 74 Valliant 
found himself with an embarrassment 
of riches. "They just dumped the money 
in my lap," he said later, "and I couldn't 
get rid of it all immediately." 75 But im- 
pressive though the totals were, they gave 
little indication of program size, for most 
of the new acreage cost the army prac- 
tically nothing. 

More than 6 million acres, over three- 
quarters of all the land required, came 
from the public domain. Four bombing 
and gunnery ranges staked out on federal 
land were the largest in area of all de- 
fense projects: Choctawatchee in Florida 
covered 380,000 acres; Mojave Desert 
in California, 640,000; Wendover in 
Utah, 1.5 million; and Tonopah in Ne- 
vada, 3.5 million. Smaller but still quite 
extensive, 60,000 to 90,000 acres each, 
were several camp sites carved from na- 
tional forests. Transfer of these public 
lands to the War Department lightened 
the burden on the Real Estate Branch 
appreciably. Purchasing such vast tracts 
would almost certainly have meant up- 
rooting entire communities and dealing 
with hundreds of owners. As it was, the 
custodians, in most cases the Interior 
and Agriculture Departments, readily 
agreed to release the lands, insisting only 
that the Army minimize damage to 
improvements and take precautions 
against forest fires. The Quartermaster 
Corps had merely to arrange details 



7 *54 Stat - 350. 599. 6a8, 705, 872, 958, 1030. 
7t Valliant Interv, 1 1 Jun 56. 



of transfer and to settle mineral and 
grazing rights. 76 

Valliant leased four hundred thousand 
acres, mainly for maneuver areas, train- 
ing grounds, landing fields, and tem- 
porary additions to existing posts. One 
National Guard camp, Bowie, was on 
a 90,000-acre site rented from the city of 
Brownwood, Texas, for one dollar per 
acre annually; and Camp Roberts, a 
replacement training center, occupied 
the 37,000-acre Nacimiento Ranch near 
Paso Robles, California, leased from its 
owners for $125,000 a year. These were 
exceptional cases. Most of the leaseholds 
were smaller — 25,000 acres or less; and 
half of them contained fewer than 1 ,000 
acres apiece. From Valliant's viewpoint, 
leasing offered marked advantages. First, 
lessors were, on the whole, a willing 
group. Only once did he have to con- 
demn in order to lease. Second, for a 
short-term program, it was more eco- 
nomical to lease than to buy. Rents paid 
during 1940 ranged from 7 to 15 percent 
of appraised values. Third, leasing 
avoided conflicts with local authorities 
over removal of properties from tax rolls. 
Fourth, it eliminated the problem of 
eventually disposing of surplus land. 
Finally, corps area quartermasters could 
do much of the work. 77 

But leasing was often impossible. 
During World War I Ordnance had 
built a number of plants on leased land. 
Subsequent forced sales of these valuable 
structures at junk prices had caused the 



'* (1) Real Estate PR, ai Feb 41. (a) 601.4 SWD. 
(3) Ltr, Harrold to QM Ninth Corps Area, 6 Nov 
40. 601. 1 (9th SvcG) I. 

"(1) Real Estate PR, ai Feb 4r, pp. 28-3^ (2) 
1st Ind, aa Jan 41, on Ltr, QM Ninth Corps Area to 
TQMG, 17 Jan 4 r. 601. 1 (9th CA) II. (3) Ltr, RE 
Br Constr Div OQMG to USW, a8 Feb 41. USW 
Files, 601 (Land Acquisition). 



176 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Comptroller General to prohibit per- 
manent improvements on privately 
owned land. Because of this prohibition 
and because many desirable sites were 
available only through purchase, Valliant 
had to buy more than one and one-third 
million acres. 78 

Two courses were open to him: nego- 
tiate with the owners or take the land 
by condemnation. While the power to 
condemn was a potent weapon, he pre- 
ferred not to use it. A hate-provoking 
action, condemnation was often also 
slow and costly. When the government 
filed a declaration of taking, the normal 
procedure in such cases, it turned con- 
trol over to the court. Although title 
vested in the United States as soon as a 
declaration was filed and the amount 
of estimated compensation was de- 
posited with the court, it was the judge 
who decided when the government could 
take possession. Under the Imminence 
of War Statute enacted during World 
War I, the government might in an 
emergency take possession immediately 
upon filing a petition in condemnation 
and giving a perimeter description of 
the land; but tide did not pass to the 
United States until final settlement. 
Where dockets were crowded and other 
important cases were awaiting trial, con- 
demnation hearings were frequently 
postponed. Moreover, in finding fair 
values, local juries tended to favor their 
neighbors' claims; as recently as the 
spring of 1 940, a Massachusetts jury had 
awarded $1,000,000 for land appraised 
at $300,000. Court charges and interest 
due owners added to the expense of con- 



7S (i) Blossom Report, pp. 273-74. (2) 1st Ind, 20 
Dec 40, on WD Ltr AG 600.12 IR (12-9-40) M-D 
to JAG, it Dec 40. QM 600.3 (Funds) 1936. (3) 
Real Estate PR, 21 Feb 41. 



demnation. Hence, Valliant sought to 
reach voluntary agreements whenever 
titles were clear. 7 ' By accepting the idea 
that the government would "pay some- 
what more than the going price . . 
in view of the fact that the owners will be 
immediately dispossessed and, therefore, 
put to great inconvenience," he avoided 
mass condemnations at all but a few 
sites. 80 

Whether he bargained with owners 
or took them to court, Valliant needed 
large numbers of surveyors, appraisers, 
and attorneys to assist him. Efforts to 
recruit such men were, for the most part, 
unavailing. The Civil Service Com- 
mission was unable to furnish lists of 
eligibles, and federal salary scales were 
too low to attract many real estate ex- 
perts. By 1 November only nine civilians 
had joined the Washington staff, and 
several of them were clerks. Locating 
officers with real estate experience was 
even harder. During 1 940 Valliant found 
but one, a Reservist who had worked for 
the Interstate Commerce Commission. 
Corps area and Constructing Quarter- 
masters experienced similar difficulties. 
Valliant had to look elsewhere for help. 
The Soil Conservation and Forest Serv- 
ices, the Farm Credit Administration, 
the Home Owners' Loan Corporation, 
and other federal agencies agreed to 
furnish personnel. Attorneys from the 
Department of Justice conducted many 
closings of direct purchase cases. These 
assistants rendered valuable service, but 
some of them were too accustomed to 



"(0 46 Stat. 1421. (2) 40 Stat. 241, 518. (3) 
Memo, Chamberlin for Moore, I o Jun 40. G— 4/30881 
Sec I. 

80 Memo of Agreement between Valliant and 
Chicago Title & Trust Co., 10 Sep 40. 601.1 (Kan- 
kakee OW) III. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



177 



the leisurely pace of peacetime activities 
to act with the speed demanded. 81 

Valliant turned in his predicament 
to private brokers. The Atlas Powder 
Company, operator For the shell-loading 
plant at Ravenna, Ohio, helped point 
the way. Early in August 1940, with 
the Ordnance Department's approval, 
Adas engaged the Bankers Guarantee 
Title & Trust Company of Akron to 
buy the Ravenna site. A 5-percent com- 
mission on the gross sale price was pay- 
able by the vendors. Later that month, 
after running into difficulties, Adas as- 
signed the Bankers Company contract 
to Colonel Valliant. Under his direction, 
the Akron firm produced quick results. 
Seeing in the brokerage arrangement 
a possible means of relieving his over- 
burdened staff, Valliant consulted 
Turton, who advised him that a similar 
expedient had worked in World War I. 
During the next three months, with the 
help of Ordnance, NDAC, the Baltimore 
and Ohio Railroad, and local chambers 
of commerce, Valliant chose brokers 
for eight of his most urgent jobs — six 
Ordnance projects and two camps — in- 
volving a total of 1,692 tracts and 151,- 
274 acres. He offered the brokers sub- 
stantially the same terms Atlas had 
given the Akron concern: seven would 
receive commissions of 5 percent; the 
eighth, who undertook an unusually 
large and complicated job at Jefferson 
Proving Ground, Indiana, would get 
6.5 percent. By hiring brokers Valliant 
obtained much-needed expert assistance. 
If his agreements with them resembled 



81 (0 Gideon, Mil RE, pp. 13-16. (2) Tab, 
Civilian Pers in Constr Div, i Nov 4.0. Opns Br Files, 
Pers. (3) Orgn Chart, Constr Div OQMG, 11 Dec 
40. EHD Files. (4) Notes, Conf of Corps Area QM's, 
29 Jan 41, pp. 75-82. QM 377 (CA QM) 1940. 



cost-plus-a-percentage contracts, re- 
cendy prohibited by Congress, he was 
unaware of it. 82 

Knowing that advance publicity would 
encourage speculation and send real 
estate prices soaring, Valliant proceeded 
cautiously. Until his agents could enter 
an area, take a number of options, and 
stabilize land values, he fought shy of 
politicians and reporters. He did his 
traveling by day coach to lessen the 
chance of anyone's learning who he was 
or where he was going. Hartman, Pat- 
terson, and Reybold helped throw a 
cloak of secrecy around new locations. 
Nevertheless, leaks occurred. One Ohio 
congressman announced the coming of 
the Ravenna plant at a public meeting. 
A series of untimely rumors was trace- 
able to Chester Davis in NDAC. Local 
officials and business leaders in whom 
site boards had confided also passed the 
word along. During August and Sep- 
tember 1940, leaks cost the Army an 
estimated $500,000. While Hartman and 
Valliant demanded greater secrecy, 
Stimson, in response to outside pressure, 
chose a very different course. Early in 
October he announced that sites would 
be made public at the time of their selec- 
tion. 83 

News of the Army's coming provoked 
intense excitement. Eight-column banner 



M ( 1 ) 60 1 . 1 (Ravenna OW) I. (2) Outline Data on 
RE Brokers, prepared in Constr Div OQMG, Apr 41. 
EHD Files. (3) Memo, Gregory for Patterson, 23 
Dec 40. QM 601. 1 (Misc) 1940. 

"(i) Valliant Interv, n Jun 56. (2) Memo, 
Hartman for Wesson, 27 Aug 40. (3) Memo, Patter- 
son for Rutherford, 16 Aug 40. Last two in QM 
600.1 (Crd) 1939-40. (4) D/S, G-4 to G-2, 5 Sep 40. 
G-4/30881 Sec II. (5) Memo, Wilson for Reybold, 
6 Sep 40, and notation thereon. 624 Part 1. (6) Tel 
Conv, Campbell and Groves, 1 o Dec 40. Opns Br Files, 
Ord. (7) WD Press Release, 7 Oct 40. 601.1 (Weldon 
Spring) I. 



headlines on page one of the Joliet 
Herald-News hailed the decision to locate 
two plants, Kankakee and El wood, in 
northeastern Illinois, According to the 
paper, a boom was on the way. Fanners 
would be well paid for their land. Jobs 
would be plentiful and wages high. 
Within six months to a year, the Herald- 
News prophesied, the population of Will 
County would increase from 114,000 to 
154,000, and 8,000 new homes would 
go up in Joliet alone. In community 
after community, optimism ran high. 
People on relief were jubilant at the 
prospect of working again. Chambers 
of commerce looked forward to a period 
of prosperity. But though many hoped 
to gain by the presence of military in- 
stallations, other expected to lose. Taking 
thousands of cultivated acres would pro- 
duce a major upheaval. In the rich agri- 
cultural areas of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, 
and Missouri, 4,000 farm families would 
be uprooted. Whole villages faced ex- 
tinction as the Army threatened to take 
the land on which they stood. Foreseeing 
much hardship, these people refused to 
give in without a fight,* 4 

While townsfolk rejoiced at their good 
fortune, the countryside was in a ferment. 
Farmers held mass meetings, drafted 
petitions, and sought injunctions. Dele- 
gations went to Washington. Men wired 
their congressmen, and women wrote 
to Mrs. Roosevelt. The protests evoked 
a pathetic picture. 8 * "Some four hundred 
farm people will be thrown out in Iowa 

**(t) Joliet Htrald-Navs, September 35, 1940. (a) 
Comments of Col Valliam, a 4, 28 Mar 55. 

" (1) Constr Div OQMG, RE Br, Annual Rpt, 
FY 1941, p. 8. Gideon File, 6A3. (a) 601,1 Ravenna 
OW, Kankakee OW, Anniston OD, Iowa OP, 
Jefferson Pr Grnd, Ft Knox, and others. (3) Memo, 
Groves for Gregory, 33 Sep 40. Opus Br Files, 
Convention in Chicago. 



winter weather," read one appeal to 
Vice President-elect Henry A. Wallace. 
"Stock, machinery, and household goods 
will have to be sacrificed. We are 
heart broken and desperate. Can't you 
help us?" 8 * "Tragic, if not stunning," 
an Illinois group described the blow.* 7 
Many urged the Army to take waste 
lands instead of cultivated acreage. But 
the War Department argued military 
necessity. In answer to a plea that he 
spare an old homestead, Patterson wrote: 
"I agree with you that it is hardly a 
pleasant thing to give up a home that 
one's family has occupied for nearly 
eighty years, but it is hardly a pleasant 
thing to have to build an ammunition 
plant. Ours, unfortunately, is a world 
in which such things are necessary." 88 
At the first signs of unrest, Colonel 
Valliant hastened to the scene. Talking 
to the owners, he was understanding but 
firm. While he sympathized with the 
farmers and expressed sincere concern 
for them, he made it clear that individual 
interests must give way to the national 
interest.* 9 Complimenting the Real Es- 
tate chief on a speech to an angry gath- 
ering at Wilmington, Illinois, a judge of 
the State Court of Appeals said, "You 
handled it beautifully and left those 



" Ltr, Mabel L. Moore, West Burlington, Iowa, to 
Henry A. Wallace, 8 Nov 40. 6or.i (Iowa OP) I. 

» Ltr, R. G. Richards al., Wilmington, III., to 
Sen Scott W. Lucas, 25 Sep 40. 6o ( ,i (Kankakee 
OW) |. 

"Ltr, Patterson to Mrs. C. E. Wootley, South 
Bend, Ind., a Nov 40. QM 6ot.i (Kingsbury OW) 
1940-41. 

■ ( 1 ) Memo, Valliant for Gregory, 29 Aug 40. 
601. 1 (Ravenna OW) I, (a) Ltr, Valliant to Miss 
Bessie A. Lee, Anniston, Ala., 11 Dec 40. 601. 1 
(Anntston OP) I. (3) Ltr, Mrs. Walter H. Miller, 
Middletown, Iowa, to the President, 14 Nov 40. 
601. i (Iowa OP) I. (4) Ltr, R. Newton McDowell, 
Kansas City, Mo„ to . . ., 34 Oct 40. 601. 1 
(Weldon Spring OW) L 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



179 




Site of Plum Brook Ordnance Works, Ohio 



farmers in a much better frame of mind 
when they left the meeting than when 
they came." 90 Valliant made no ex- 
travagant promises, but with natural 
humanity, he frequently succeeded in 
calming the farmers down. 

What proved more difficult was 
bringing them to terms. Arriving at the 
Army's newly selected sites, Quarter- 
master agents were met by demands for 
high prices. Some claims, though large, 
were reasonable. Many sites, particularly 
those for munitions projects, included 
prize agricultural land. Indeed, the fea- 
tures that made for good industrial 
tracts — firm, level ground, ample water, 
and nearness to roads and railroads — 
also made for profitable farms. But many 
asking prices were clearly out of line; 

,0 Ltr, Judge Frank H. Hayes, Springfield, 111., to 
Valliant, 25 Sep 40. 601.1 (Kankakee OW) I. 



some were as much as thirty times ap- 
praised values. Perhaps the greatest stim- 
ulus to high prices was the Army's in- 
sistence on immediate possession. One 
attorney reported sharp advances when 
farmers began "to realize the enormity 
of the task" of moving within thirty 
days. 91 Rumors that speed was all-im- 
portant and price was no object caused 
many owners to expect much more than 
they had ever before dreamed their 
properties were worth. Scalpers made 
a bad situation worse. Lashing out 
against the activities of "land option 
sharks," a Quartermaster spokesman 
said, "When the owner whose land we 
take over attempts to move into the ad- 
joining area, he finds the prices there 
have been skyrocketed and he is unable 

» 1 Ltr, Charles S. Smith, Akron, Ohio, to Valliant, 
10 Sep 40. 601. 1 (Ravenna OW) I. 



180 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



to buy at a fair price." 92 At several 
places Valliant cut costs by redrawing 
site boundaries to avoid payment of 
severance damages and exclude expen- 
sive buildings and commercial proper- 
ties. Generally, he told his agents to try 
to satisfy the owners but to remember 
that Uncle Sam was not Santa Claus. M 
Reviewing options taken in the field, 
Valliant and Turton noted a startling 
development. Not only were valuations 
high, but sums had frequently been 
added to cover "disturbance damages." 
A father was to get $2,000 for training 
his blind daughter to find her way around 
a new farm. A congregation was to re- 
ceive $1,000 for the trouble of relocating 
its church; the preacher, $695 for lost 
salary. A dairyman had been promised 
extra compensation for driving his cows 
a few miles down the road — he said it 
disturbed their milk production. Though 
some claims were farfetched, others 
stemmed from genuine hardship. 94 "In 
almost every instance," one agent wrote, 
"we are purchasing somebody's home, 
which means disruption of their family 
life, moving immediately from the prem- 
ises, disposing of large quantities of live- 
stock, farm machinery, feed, and other 
property, storing of household goods, 
renting of new quarters for living, etc. 
All of these inconveniences are con- 
sidered by us." 96 Whether losses were 
real or fancied, there was no legal basis 
for such claims. The government was 



"Testimony of John J. O'Brien, 18 Mar 41. In 
May Comm Hearings, Part i, p. 252. 
"Gideon, Mil RE, p. 17. 

M Memo, Constr Div OQMG for Patterson, 2 1 
Mar 41. USW Files 601 (Land Acquisition) (Dis- 
turbance Damages). 

96 Ltr, A. J. Gockrell, Burlington, Iowa, to Valliant, 
6 Dec 40. 601. 1 (Iowa OP) I. 



obliged to pay fair market value, no less 
and no more. 

The source of the trouble was soon 
clear. Valliant learned that NDAC had 
asked the Attorney General for a ruling 
in favor of disturbance damages and had 
been refused. Correspondence on the 
subject between Chester Davis and pro- 
fessors at the University of Illinois came 
to light. Reports from the field told a 
fuller story. From agents in Ohio, In- 
diana, Illinois, Missouri, and Iowa came 
word that Davis' top assistants, Arthur 
C. Ringland and John B. Hutson, had 
been out talking to the farmers. Lists 
of disturbance factors, compiled by 
NDAC, were passing from hand to hand. 
Indorsed by the Advisory Commission 
were claims for the following: rent for 
family quarters until new farms could be 
found; storage for equipment; housing 
for livestock; decreased milk production 
while herds adjusted to new surround- 
ings; unused pasturage; unrealized bene- 
fits from fertilizing, plowing, and seeding; 
value of labor expended in moving; and 
losses of various types, including those 
sustained in forced sales of animals and 
machinery. Representatives of the Farm 
Bureau, the CIO Farmers Union, and 
the Farm Security Administration sup- 
ported these demands. At some projects, 
agents refused to countenance distur- 
bance damages, but at others, pressure 
was so extreme that they allowed such 
claims. Inclusion of disturbance items 
was increasing option prices as much as 
40 percent. 94 

88 (1 ) Memo, Constr Div OQMG for Patterson, 21 
Mar 41. USW Files, 601 (Land Acquisition) (Dis- 
turbance Damages). (2) Memo, Ringland for Red, 
17 Oct 40. 601. 1 (Kankakee OW) I. (3) Memo, 
Turton for Valliant, 2 1 Oct 40. 601 . 1 (Elwood OP) I. 
(4) Memo, Chief RE Br to Chief Constr Div OQMG, 
11 Apr 41. Opns Br Files, House Investigation. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



181 



Valliant took what steps he could to 
force prices down. He returned options 
containing disturbance items, unsigned. 
Valuations up to $90 an acre he usually 
let go unchallenged, since time did not 
permit careful investigation of every 
parcel; but he checked larger claims 
against assessments. He used various 
means to bring the owners around. His 
agents tried persuasion and take-it-or- 
leave-it offers. His policy was to "give 
the farmers a break," and whenever 
possible to let them graze cattle, cut 
timber, harvest crops, and salvage im- 
provements after the government took 
possession. Nevertheless, some owners 
remained obdurate. At fourteen proj- 
ects Valliant condemned all or part of 
the site. Among the larger tracts taken 
in this way were 1,678 acres for the Utah 
General Depot, 2,080 acres for the Den- 
ver Ordnance Plant, 16,246 acres for 
the Fort Dix target range, and 31,600 
acres for expansion of Fort Jackson. A 
tense situation at the Ordnance project 
near Burlington, Iowa, received more 
delicate handling. Options on this site, 
taken by A. J. Cockrell, a local realtor 
working under a brokerage arrangement, 
showed an overall cost of $4 million, 
double the amount originally estimated. 
Farmers in the area, having just lost a 
furious fight to keep the Army out, were 
in an ugly mood. Warned that riots 
might occur if the government con- 
demned, Valliant hired John J. Wagner 
of Cedar Rapids to make an independent 
appraisal. 97 From Burlington, Wagner 
reported "that even a slight hint that our 



,T (i) Valliant's Testimony, 15 Jan 41, Exhibit B, 
p. 36, with Memo, TIG for USW, 19 Feb 41. IG 
333.9 (Jefferson Pr Grnd). (a) Valliant Interv, 1 1 Jun 
56. (3) Real Estate PR, 21 Feb 41, pp. 26-27, a 1-22, 
13-14. (4) 6oi.i (Iowa OP) I. 



conclusions might be less than option 
prices would be . . dangerous." 
He nevertheless agreed to see the job 
through. In reappraising the site, Wagner 
set prices at "the highest level of value 
which . . . could, in any circum- 
stances, be justified." 98 But Valliant 
feared that these prices would be unac- 
ceptable and established new ones aver- 
aging 18.5 percent above Wagner's ap- 
praisals. Cockrell was able to renegotiate 
his options on this new basis, thereby 
cutting $650,000 to $700,000 from the 
cost of acquisition and possibly prevent- 
ing unfortunate incidents. 99 

Disappointed and worried farmers 
took their troubles to NDAC's Agri- 
cultural Division, bombarding Davis with 
complaints. Visits from delegations, long- 
distance calls, and numerous letters 
impelled the veteran farm leader to in- 
vestigate. Since many of the early protests 
were from the Kankakee-Elwood area, 
he began there. 100 By 17 October his 
assistant, Ringland, had completed a re- 
port. Criticizing Raymond E. Herman, 
the Chicago broker in charge of acqui- 
sition, Ringland wrote: "A number have 
complained that they were informed in 
a ruthless manner, 'You might as well 
stop that plowing because the Govern- 
ment is going to take possession in thirty 
days.' This caused a great deal of emo- 
tional distress and misunderstandings that 
still exist." He went on to deplore Val- 
liant's use of city men and Herman's 
dealings with tenants. Calling the tenant 



**Ltr, Wagner to Valliant, 13 Dec 40. 601 ,i 
(Iowa OP) I. 

»»(i) Memo, RE Br for Constr Div, 17 Feb 41. 
USW Files, 601 (Land Acq). (2) Memo, RE Br for 
Constr Div, 4 Feb 41. 601. 1 (Iowa OP) I. 

100 Ltr, Hutson to May, n.d., and Inch. In May 
Comm Hearings, Part 1 , pp. 252-57. 



182 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



"the forgotten man," he explained: 

In all cases the broker has been dealing 
only with the owner, informing him that the 
tenant must look to the owner for the settle- 
ment of his rights. In the purchase price, how- 
ever, it has been the general practice to be 
generous and to include ... an addi- 
tional amount to compensate the tenant. 
But this leaves it to the owner to decide how 
much he will pass on to the tenant, and in 
some cases compensation for the tenant has 
been forgotten completely or is quite in- 
adequate .... Some tenants, know- 
ing their rights, are ready to file suit to re- 
cover adequate damages from the owner. 
Such action would cloud the title and make 
for delay in the settlement of the project. 

Ringland concluded by recommending, 
one, that the Army safeguard tenants' 
interests, two, that it recognize dis- 
turbance factors, and, three, that federal 
appraisers replace private realtors. 101 

The first point was quickly settled. On 
1 8 October Ringland, Hutson, and 
Turton agreed to a procedure that would 
protect the tenants. Before taking an 
option, Quartermaster agents would in- 
sist that owner and tenant come to an 
agreement. The tenant would be paid 
his share directly, not through the owner 
as before. But there was no accord on 
points two and three. On 23 October 
and again on the 25th, Davis brought 
these questions before the Advisory Com- 
mission. With his colleagues' approval, 
he called a conference of representatives 
from various federal land agencies and 
laid his case before them. Upholding 
Davis' views, the conferees advised the 
War Department in effect: dismiss the 
brokers, turn the projects over to us, and 
thus ensure that owners and tenants 
will receive sympathetic treatment and 



101 Memo, Ringland for Red, 17 Oct 40. 601. 1 
(Kankakee OW) I. 



that purchase prices will include dis- 
turbance damages. 102 On 5 November 
Patterson issued a statement. The Quar- 
termaster General would try "to secure 
the good will of the community to the 
maximum extent possible, consistent with 
fair prices and the availability of the 
land at the time and in the location 
needed," and "to cause the least hard- 
ship and inconvenience." Patterson made 
no mention of brokers or disturbance 
damages. In fact, he did little more than 
set the War Department's seal on Colonel 
Valliant's policies. 103 

Renewing the attack, Davis concen- 
trated his fire against the brokers. Under 
mounting pressure, Patterson turned to 
The Quartermaster General for advice. 
Early in December Gregory replied with 
a defense of the brokerage arrangement. 
While conceding that city brokers might 
be unfamiliar with farm problems, he 
pointed out that they almost invariably 
hired local men to help them. He went 
on to state that the brokerage system 
had saved money by cutting overhead 
costs from the 8 percent averaged by 
government departments to 5 percent. 
He further argued that because private 
realtors did "not have to conform to 
established and sometimes time-consum- 
ing practices of the Government," they 
could work more swiftly than federal 
agents. Gregory nevertheless gave ground. 
"Hereafter," he wrote, "this office will 
make increased use of the facilities of 
other Government agencies and will not 
resort to special agents on a commis- 
sion basis except in a very exceptional 



105 (1) Memo, Turton for Valliant, ai Oct 40. 
601. 1 (Elwood OP) I. (2) Minutes of the JVDAC, pp. 
104, 107. (3) Incl with Ltr, Hutson to May. 

103 Memo, Patterson for TQMG, 5 Nov 40. Q_M 
60 1. 1 (Misc) 1940. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



183 



case, in which case your office will first 
be consulted." Gregory's answer failed 
to satisfy Patterson, who was begin- 
ning to worry on another score — that 
the brokerage contracts might fall 
within the definition of cost-plus-a-per- 
centage. On 26 December he prohibited 
further use of brokers without his express 
approval. 104 At the same time he ex- 
plained to Davis that "if real estate 
agents were used on future projects the 
fee would be fixed and not related to the 
purchase price of the land." 108 When, in 
late December, Valliant wished to hire 
a private realtor for the Plum Brook 
Ordnance Plant in Ohio, Patterson 
agreed on condition that the broker 
receive a lump sum agreed to in ad- 
vance. 106 

Having won a partial victory in the 
matter of the brokers, Davis returned 
to the subject of disturbance damages. 
For a time Colonel Valliant gave in to 
some extent, directing his agents to allow 
for tangible damages though not to 
itemize them in the options. Pressing 
his advantage, Davis next demanded 
that the War Department earmark part 
of its next appropriation for disturbance 
payments. Valliant opposed the plan. 
Asked for an opinion, the Attorney Gen- 
eral again pointed out that Davis was on 
shaky legal ground and suggested another 
approach — give the Department of Agri- 
culture relief funds to assist in the re- 
location of needy families. The result 
was that the farm security agency took 
over the handling of disturbance cases 

104 (1 ) Memo, Gregory for Patterson, 4 Dec 40. (a) 
Memo, Patterson for Gregory, 26 Dec 40. Both in 
601.1 I. 

105 Incl with Ltr, Hutson to May. 

106 (1) Memo, Gregory for Patterson, 30 Dec 40. 
(2) Memo, Gregory for Patterson, 31 Dec 40, and 
approval thereon. Both in 601. 1 I. 



and the Real Estate Branch went back 
to rejecting damage claims. loT 

While he referred to Davis as "my bete 
noire," Valliant had other critics to 
content with. Ordnance was dissatisfied 
with his progress. According to the com- 
manding officer, contractors at Kankakee 
had waited three weeks while the Real 
Estate Branch trifled with options. A 
spokesman for General Wesson main- 
tained that slowness in obtaining land 
had held up the Iowa shell loading 
plant one month. Valliant denied de- 
laying construction at any project and 
stated that many difficulties were trace- 
able to Ordnance itself. Declaring that 
the Real Estate Branch was often the 
last to learn of impending projects, he 
cited the Wolf Creek plant at Milan, 
Tennessee, as an example. Ordnance 
first requested authority to build the 
plant on 14 November, but Valliant 
heard nothing of the matter until 2 7 De- 
cember, when he got orders to acquire the 
tract. In the six weeks that elapsed before 
he learned of Ordnance's intentions, he 
might have completed preliminary 
work. 108 

Despite the hue and cry that accom- 
panied acquisition, Valliant's record was 
a creditable one. By late December 1 94.0 



107 (1) Incl with Ltr, Ringland to Turton, a6 Dec 
40. 601 . 1 I. (a) Ltr, Valliant to Ostendorf-Morris Co., 
Cleveland, Ohio, 7 Jan 41. 601. 1 (Plum Brook OW) 
I. (3) Ltr, Davis to Patterson, 29 Jan 41 . (4) Ltr, Asst 
Atty Gen to Patterson, 37 Feb 41. (5) Ltr, Patterson 
to Davis, 6 Mar 41. Last three in USW Files, 601 
(Land Acquisition). (6) Memo, RE Br for Chief 
Constr Div OQMG, 11 Apr 41. Opns Br Files, H 
Investigation. 

1M (1) Valliant Interv, 11 Jun 56. (2) Memo, 
OCofOrd Industrial Serv FaciJ for TQMG, 6 Nov 40. 
601. 1 (Kankakee OW) I. (3) Memo, Valliant for 
Hartman, 39 Nov 40. 601. 1 (Weldon Spring OW) I. 
(4) Tel Conv, Maj Thomas (Ord) and Groves, 31 
Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Burlington OP. (5) Memo, 
Valliant for Patterson, 31 Dec 40. 601. 1 I. 



184 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



he had obtained initial possession of 
some 65 tracts. Much of this work had 
gone forward with remarkable speed. 
Given advance notice, Valliant was able 
to open 20 sites to contractors on the 
same day he received directives. During 
the last half of 1940 his average time 
for gaining access was just under 27 days 
per project. By February 1941, when 
the first full progress report appeared, 
the Army had acquired all or part of 85 
sites. Valliant by that time had ac- 
cepted options on more than a million 
acres and had transferred several million 
more from the public domain — this in 
addition to leasing land at 38 projects 
and renting 2 million square feet of 
warehouse, office, and garage space. The 
work of proving titles, making settle- 
ments, dismantling structures, moving 
utilities lines, closing roads, and fencing 
or removing cemeteries dragged on, for 
these were time-consuming jobs; but 
rarely did contractors have to wait be- 
fore they could commence to build. 109 

Selecting Contractors 

Seeking to make the most of available 
contracting talent, Hartman reviewed 
his requirements for constructors and 
architect-engineers. For munitions proj- 
ects he would need concerns with in- 
dustrial experience and skill in heavy 
construction; for camps and cantonments, 
firms familiar with mass housing and 
municipal and sanitary work; for air- 
fields, specialists in grading and paving. 
Above all, he would need reliable con- 
tractors with the managerial, technical, 
and financial strength to meet emer- 



m (0 R eal Estate PR, 21 Feb 41, passim. (2) 
Constr Div OQMG RE Br, Annual Rpt, FY 1 941, 
pp. 5-6. Gideon File, 6A3. 



gency demands. Under the competitive 
method of award, by which a majority 
of the smaller, less urgent jobs were let, 
his choice was restricted to the lowest 
qualified, responsible bidder. But under 
the negotiatory method, used on most of 
the big crash projects, he was able to 
pick his own man. Choosing among the 
thousands of potential contractors was 
a delicate and exacting task. 

In May 1940 Hartman began as- 
sembling information on candidates for 
fixed-fee contracts. Announcing that all 
applicants would receive consideration, 
he invited interested parties to submit 
their qualifications and performance 
records. Constructors were to furnish de- 
tails as to how their firms were organized, 
what their financial resources were, how 
much equipment they owned, and what 
their experience was with fixed-fee and 
lump sum work. Architects and engineers 
were to list personnel and recent commis- 
sions. Answers rained in from all over the 
country, as contractors hastened to of- 
fer their services. When Major Thomas 
arrived in Washington on 14 June, he 
plunged immediately into sorting and 
classifying the applications. He and his 
small staff of engineers and clerks sep- 
arated constructors from architect-en- 
gineers, listed them by states, and began 
an alphabetical index. Upon formation 
of the Construction Advisory Committee 
in July, he turned over to Chairman 
Harvey files on 320 architect-engineers 
and 1,140 construction companies. 110 

Hartman, meantime, was establishing 
selection criteria. He set rigorous stand- 



114 (1) Final Rpt, Constr Adv Comm, 15 Mar 4a, 
pp. 5-7. EHD Files. (2) Loving, History of the 
Fixed-Fee Branch, Apr 41. Loving Papers. (3) WD 
Press Release, 22 Jul 40, sub: Civilian Experts to Aid 
Army Speed Constr. EHD Files. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



185 



ards. To qualify, a firm would have to 
offer a strong, going organization backed 
by the capital, experience, and key 
personnel to complete a given project 
in the least possible time. Work per- 
formed over the past five years would 
be an important factor; no concern could 
qualify unless its recent volume of busi- 
ness was more or less commensurate with 
the estimated cost of the job at hand. 
Current commitments would also carry 
weight, for Hartman wished to prevent 
contractors from accepting more work 
than they could handle. Ideally, the firm 
selected would be able to grasp the re- 
quirements of the project, provide an ade- 
quate force of seasoned, competent men, 
anticipate problems, distinguish between 
essentials and refinements, attain maxi- 
mum speed and efficiency, achieve un- 
broken progress, and faithfully fulfill 
the contract. Determined to maintain 
absolute- impartiality, Hartman made 
it a fixed rule that representations on 
behalf of applicants by congressmen and 
others would receive no weight what- 
ever. He made but one concession to 
politics: other things being equal, he 
would draw contractors from the section 
of the country in which the project was 
located and preferably from the same 
state. As a matter of sound policy, he 
intended to spread the work among as 
many firms as possible. Except in unusual 
circumstances, the principle would apply: 
one contract to a contractor. 111 

In mid-July, the newly created Con- 
struction Advisory Committee got to 



111 (i ) Memo, Hartman for Admin Div OQMG, 18 
Jul 40. QM 400.13 (Mun Program — FY 1941). (a) 
Memo by Constr Adv Comrn, 31 Jan 41, pp. 4-6. 
EHD Files. (3) Final Rpt, Constr Adv Comm, 15 
Mar 42, pp. 3-5. EHD Files. (4) Statement of Gen 
Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 12. 



work. On the 17th the members made 
their first recommendation — for the ar- 
chitect-engineer contract at Springfield 
Armory. During the next few weeks 
they were immersed in hiring a staff of 
fifteen, analyzing a continuing flood of 
applications, and nominating contractors 
for a handful of secondary projects, most 
of which were arsenal roundouts. A good 
deal of their time was taken up by com- 
pany officials who came to solicit con- 
tracts. After talking to these visitors, the 
committee made "a very rough attempt at 
grading them as to size, personality, and 
energy." Chairman Harvey emphasized: 
"We do not reject anybody. . . . 
Every contractor — 'most every contractor 
at least — is qualified for something if 
the right job should turn up." 112 The 
real work of selection had yet to begin. 
Since the earliest command construc- 
tion contracts were lump sum, they lay 
outside the committee's jurisdiction. And 
while the new munitions plants were 
fixed-fee propositions, Quartermaster 
participation in awarding these con- 
tracts awaited settlement of differences 
with Ordnance. 

In June, about the time the first de- 
fense construction funds became avail- 
able, the War Department had informed 
NDAC of "an internal problem between 
the Quartermaster Corps and the Ord- 
nance Division as to who should have 
supervision over the building of plants." 
The dispute had arisen over the contract 
for the new smokeless powder factory 
at Charlestown, Indiana, the initial proj- 
ect in the industrial preparedness pro- 
gram. 113 Without a by-your-leave to 
Hartman, General Wesson was proceed- 

11! Testimony of Forrest S. Harvey, 12 Feb 41. In 
May Comm Hearings, Part i, p. 2. 
113 Minutes of the NDAC, p. 38. 



186 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



ing to negotiate an agreement with Du 
Pont for design, construction, and opera- 
tion of the plant. 114 This move, though 
contrary to the Defense Act, was hardly 
unexpected. Ordnance officers had long 
favored a decentralized construction 
setup similar to the one that existed be- 
fore the autumn of 191 7. In their view 
the agency that would run the plants 
should also design and build them. 
"Ordnance was charged with the re- 
sponsibility of producing munitions in 
specified quantities and schedules," one 
of them explained. "The Construction 
Division was not. In war, end results 
count, not preliminaries." 116 Additional 
pressure toward decentralization came 
from the industrialists on whom Ordnance 
had to rely. The so-called "merchants 
of death" were naturally reluctant to 
expose themselves to another ordeal like 
the Nye investigation. Accepting a de- 
fense role as a patriotic duty, they were 
in a position to insist on their own terms. 
As prospective plant users, they wished to 
control construction and design. Thus, 
Wesson's arrangements with DuPont 
followed a certain logic. But from the 
Quartermaster standpoint this logic was 
sophistical. Fearing a return to the chaotic 
conditions of early 191 7, Hartman made 
strenuous objections. 

Colonel Burns tried to reconcile these 
differences. There was, he felt, no easy 
answer. As an Ordnance officer with 
thirty-six years' service, he could well 
appreciate Wesson's position. Equally 
clear to him was the fact that the plants 
were part of Hartman's program. 116 With 



lu Completion Rpt, Indiana OW, 6 Nov 42, p. 5. 
EHD Files. 

"« Comments of Gen Campbell, VIII, 58. EHD 
Files. 

u * Burns Interv, 24 May 56. 



his executive, Major Dillon, also an 
Ordnance officer, Burns outlined a pro- 
cedure, a fair and proper way, he 
thought, of handling munitions proj- 
ects. The using service would name firms 
to operate the plants and to act as "man- 
agement agents" during construction; 
Hartman would choose building con- 
tractors "in consultation with and sub- 
ject to the concurrence of the interested 
service." The Quartermaster and Ord- 
nance or Chemical Warfare would draft 
the contracts together, the using service 
"determining all questions of a technical 
nature involving final operation" and the 
Quartermaster taking responsibility for 
"all construction phases." Supervision 
of projects would be in accordance with 
these principles. Any disputes between 
the services would go to the Assistant 
Secretary. Johnson approved the pro- 
cedure on 1 1 July. 117 But things did not 
turn out as Burns had planned. Not only 
did Wesson avoid compliance, signing 
his agreement with DuPont on the 1 7th 
and speeding negotiations with the Chrys- 
ler Corporation toward a single architect- 
engineer-constructor-operator contract 
for the new tank arsenal at Detroit, but 
he also attempted to divorce the Quar- 
termaster Corps from the Ordnance 
program by seeking changes in the De- 
fense Act. 

Secretary Stimson had been in office 
only a few days when Wesson asked him 
to sponsor a rider to the supplemental 
appropriation bill recently introduced 
in Congress. The proposed amendment 
would empower the Secretary to assign 
construction projects to any arm or serv- 
ice. Uncertain of his ground, Stimson 
consulted Benedict Crowell, who op- 

m Memo, Burns for Johnson, 1 1 Jul 40, and 
approval thereon. 470 Part 1. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



187 



posed the change 118 — and informed opinion 
was solidly behind the ex-Assistant Secre- 
tary. "All the logic of experience," said 
Harrison, "indicates that under one cen- 
tral authority . . . the program ought to 
be carried out more soundly, more ex- 
peditiously, and more economically than 
would be the case were the execution of 
construction handled by the several 
services." 119 A similar statement came 
from the Hogan committee. 120 Mean- 
time, the Construction Division offered 
a spirited defense of the existing law. 
Maintaining "that much loss of time and 
money will be caused by the failure to 
appreciate that the prospective user is 
seldom the one best qualified to construct 
the plant," Hartman blasted the Ord- 
nance amendment. "It would be little 
short of a calamity," he warned, if the 
clock were turned back to early 1917. 121 
Although General Moore saw merit in 
the single contract plan for certain in- 
dustrial projects, he nevertheless con- 
sidered the suggested change too sweep- 
ing. Confronted by such widespread 
opposition, General Wesson wavered. 
Finally, on the last day of July, he with- 
drew the proposal and agreed to follow 
the procedure outlined by Colonel 
Burns. 122 

During August a contracting pattern 
emerged. At projects, such as Ordnance 
chemical and explosives works, where 

lls (i) G-4/31858. (2) Stimson Diary, 24 Jul 40. 
m Memo, Harrison for Burns, 31 Jul 40. SW Files, 
Gen Corresp, 1932-42, Constr Work. 

110 Memo, Hogan for Dillon, 1 7 Jul 40. ANMB 334 
Comm Members and Min of Mtgs, (3) See also 
Ltr, Hogan for ANMB, 1 Aug 40, SW Files, Constr 
Work 261-650. 

ul Memo, TQMG (CDH) for G-4, 23 Jul 40. 
QM 600.1 (Misc) 1940. 

111 ( 1 ) Handwritten notes by General Moore, 23 
Jul 40. G— 4/31858. (2) Memo, Schulz for Wesson, 2g 
Jul 40, and 1 st Ind, 31 Jul 40. SW Files, Gen Corresp, 
1933-42, Constr Work. 



experience in difficult processing tech- 
niques was essential, a single firm con- 
tracted for design, construction, and 
operation. The Quartermaster Corps 
made arrangements for architect-en- 
gineering and construction. Thus, 
Hartman negotiated the construction 
clauses of an agreement signed with 
Hercules on 16 August for a powder plant 
at Radford, Virginia, and at the same 
time approved Chrysler's choice of Albert 
Kahn Associates as engineering sub- 
contractor for the Detroit Tank Arsenal. 
At projects requiring less experience — 
bag loading plants, shell loading plants, 
small arms ammunition factories, and 
the like — the Quartermaster Corps nor- 
mally awarded separate contracts for 
architect-engineering and construction. 
The shell loading plant at Ravenna, 
Ohio, was the first handled in this way. 
On 28 August Ordnance signed an agree- 
ment with the Atlas Powder Company 
for operation of the plant. A few days 
later, Hartman, acting on the advisory 
committee's recommendations, awarded 
the architect-engineer contract to Wilbur 
Watson and Associates of Columbus, 
Ohio, and the construction contract to 
the Hunkin-Conkey Company of Cleve- 
land. The compromise satisfied no one. 
The Quartermaster General disliked the 
single contract, which tended to make 
industrialists arbiters in construction mat- 
ters, while Ordnance would have pre- 
ferred to use it "altogether if we could, 
because it facilitates . . . the tran- 
sition from construction to operation by 
having the same contractor." 123 Never- 
theless, both services had one end in 
view — to get the plants built; and toward 
that end, they co-operated. 

1S ' Testimony of Col Francis H. Miles, Jr., 5 Mar 
41. In May Comm Hearings, Part 1, p. 220. 



188 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Late in August the floodgates opened. 
Upon passage of the National Guard 
Act, the Construction Advisory Com- 
mittee was deluged with work. During 
the next month and a half, the com- 
mittee nominated firms for sixty fixed-fee 
contracts, the bulk of which were for 
troop housing. Then, as the pace of camp 
selections slackened, there came a surge 
of industrial jobs, followed by waves of 
replacement training centers, general 
hospitals, and depots. Before the year 
was out, Harvey, Blossom, and Dresser 
had helped choose more than 140 con- 
tractors. Only rarely, as when Ordnance 
suggested a firm favored by one of its 
operators, did Hartman proceed without 
consulting the committee. The advisory 
group came into the picture when Loving 
or Lamphere called for nominations. 
Guided primarily by data in their files, 
the members first selected a number of 
firms, perhaps as many as ten. A quick 
investigation followed. Dun & Brad- 
street furnished financial reports; the 
Bureau of Contract Information, per- 
formance ratings. Telephone inquiries 
went to trade associations and profes- 
sional societies. Prospective contractors 
came in for questioning. After narrowing 
the field to the three it believed best 
qualified, the committee recommended 
them in order of preference to General 
Hartman. The branch chief concerned — 
Loving or Lamphere — reviewed the rec- 
ommendations and made a tentative 
selection. He then cleared his choice 
with Patterson's office and with NDAC, 
sending the contractor's name to 
Hartman for final approval. 124 

At first the Construction Advisory 
Committee was besieged by demands 

"•(i) Constr Adv Cornm, Recommendations 
Book. EHD Files. (2) Memo, Constr Div OQMG 
for USW, 11 Apr 41. QM 600.1 (CPFF) 1941, II. 



for preferential treatment. "Political pres- 
sure from members of Congress to award 
work to their constituents was a strenuous 
problem," General Hartman related. 
"Furthermore, the White House almost 
daily called on the telephone in reference 
to work for specified firms." 125 Observing 
that the placement of emergency con- 
tracts "was too big a thing for the poli- 
ticians not to get mixed up in it," Dresser 
exclaimed: "They were on our necks. 
Believe me, the heat was terrific." 12 * 
There was also plenty of heat on con- 
gressmen and the President. Many, 
many firms were soliciting their help in 
landing defense contracts, and as one 
Representative pointed out to Harvey, 
"Of course, we have to run for office 
and you do not." 127 In dealing with 
political requests, the Construction Di- 
vision proceeded tactfully but resisted 
pork-barrel contracting. Hartman in- 
variably suggested that congressmen ask 
their constituents to file formal applica- 
tions with the Construction Advisory 
Committee. At his direction, a letter 
went to all leading contractors, oudining 
the method of selection and emphasizing 
that there were no strings to pull. With 
Patterson's help, he publicized the policy 
of giving local concerns first considera- 
tion, a policy legislators heartily ap- 
proved. A meeting at which Quarter- 
master officers briefed congressional 
leaders served further to clarify mis- 
understandings. Gradually the pressure 
eased. Attempts to sway the committee 
became increasingly rare. 128 

1,1 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 13. 

ua Dresser Interv, 2 Apr 57. 

1,7 May Comm Hearings, Part 1, p. 53. 

128 (1) Circ, OQMG to various contractors, 15 Aug 
40. EHD Files, (a) Memo, Schulz for Gregory, 13 
Sep 40, and related corresp. QM 600.1 (CPFF) 
(Policy) I. (3) QM 600.1 (CPFF) (Misc Corresp) 
!939-4°- 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



189 



Influence peddlers offered the most 
serious threat to the Quartermaster's 
reputation for impartiality. The earliest 
fixed-fee contracts carried the following 
"convenant against contingent fees": 

The Contractor warrants that he has not 
employed any person to solicit or secure this 
contract upon any agreement for a commis- 
sion, percentage, brokerage or contingent 
fee. Breach of this warranty shall give the 
Government the right to terminate the con- 
tract, or in its discretion, to deduct from pay- 
ments due the Contractor the amount of 
such . . . fee. This warranty shall not 
apply to commissions payable by Contrac- 
tors upon contracts or sales secured or made 
through bona fide established commercial 
or selling agencies maintained by the Con- 
tractor for the purpose of securing business. 129 

But persons who claimed they could 
procure contracts through inside con- 
nections were already at work. Con- 
spicuous among them was a firm that 
openly advertised its services. Although 
Hartman repeatedly warned contractors 
against having dealings with such people, 
a number of companies hired inter- 
mediaries or bought advice from persons 
"in the know." One case hit close to 
home. Late in September, while negotia- 
tions were in progress with the Con- 
solidated Engineering Company of Bal- 
timore for construction at Camp Meade, 
Hartman learned that Consolidated had 
agreed to pay Gen. Richard C. Marshall 
a commission on any work he was helpful 
in securing. Reportedly several other big 
concerns were clients of the onetime 
Chief of Construction. Marshall's ac- 
tivities put the division in an awkward 
position, for although Quartermaster 
Regulars had little to do with him, the 
returned veterans of the World War I 



u»CPFF Form i, approved by the ASW, 12 Jul 
40, art. XIV. 



construction crew were frequently in 
his company. At Loving's insistence 
Consolidated broke off with Marshall 
before signing the Meade contract. After 
telling Patterson what had happened, 
Hartman adopted a new safeguard: 
henceforth every fixed-fee contractor had 
to sign an affidavit that he had paid no 
one to assist him in any manner whatever 
to obtain the award. 130 Satisfied that the 
War Department was in the clear, Patter- 
son wrote to a friend, "I am confident 
that there is no fancy stuff going on." 131 
Resisting pressure was clearly a nega- 
tive approach to selection; the main job 
was one of choosing wisely among ap- 
plicants. Although plenty of concerns 
believed themselves capable of handling 
emergency assignments, only a small 
minority could meet Hartman's criteria. 
Comparatively few enterprises possessed 
the experience required for the Army's 
high-speed fixed-fee projects, most of 
which were estimated to cost between 
$5 million and $30 million. "You take 
a $5,000,000 job that has to be done 
in three months," Harvey explained, 
"and it is equivalent to a $20,000,000 
job on an annual basis. In fact, because 
the organizing time is so short, it takes 
considerable ability to do that amount 
of work in that amount of time and do 
it efficiendy or with any pretense of ef- 
ficiency." It took considerable capital, 
too. To finance a fixed-fee job, a con- 
structor had to put up about 20 percent 
of the total cost. At the time the program 
began, raising several million dollars was 

150 (1 ) Memo, Hartman for Burns, 18 Nov 40. SW 
Files, Constr Work 551-650. (a) Truman Coram 
Hearings, Part 2, pp. 581-603, 491-93. (3) Dresser 
Interv, a Apr 57; Marshall Interv, 33 Sep 55; 
Pagan Interv, 8 Mar 57. 

m Ltr, Patterson to Richard C. Evarts, Boston, 
Mass., 17 Oct 40. SW Files, Consti' Work 351-650. 



190 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



an impossible feat for most. Personality 
was another limiting factor. Some repu- 
table and well-to-do firms were passed 
over because their key officials were too 
old and lacking in drive to cope with 
crash deadlines. The advisory com- 
mittee hoped to find the right contractor 
for every job, but, as Harvey pointed out, 
there was no scientific way of doing this. 
"It is entirely a matter of judgment," 
he said, "as to who will serve the Govern- 
ment best." 182 

Determined to take no chances that 
might jeopardize success, the committee 
sought top-grade talent for the initial 
camp projects. In states, such as Califor- 
nia, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and 
New York, which abounded in first rate 
contractors, they had no difficulty pick- 
ing local outfits. But in some areas of 
intensive camp construction, particu- 
larly in the South, they encountered 
a shortage of qualified concerns. As a 
result, a number of early projects went to 
distant firms with wide experience and 
ample resources. 183 Harvey defended the 
selection of Starrett Brothers and Eken 
of New York as constructors for 
Camp Blanding, Florida, stating that 
"$10,000,000 to be done in three months 
looked like a whale of a job, and we were 
scared to death to put anybody on it 
but pretty big contractors." 134 Although 
the committee justified choices of this 
kind, local interests complained bitterly. 
One Alabama congressman upbraided 
the War Department for pursuing a 
policy which seemed "to take care of the 
big people, make the big still bigger, 

u * Harvey's Testimony, 12, 13 Feb 41. In May 
Comm Hearings, Part 1, pp. 8, 13, 44, 2, 27. 

IM OQMG, Constr Contracts Awarded or Ap- 
proved, 12 Nov 41. 

m Harvey's Testimony, 25 Apr 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 1, p. 335. 



and leave the little people struggling 
to get along out in the cold." 135 In the 
face of numerous protests, Patterson 
tightened enforcement of the local pref- 
erence rule. On 13 September he told 
Hartman to get his permission before 
selecting any more out-of-state con- 
cerns. Another of Hartman's informal 
spread-the-work rules became War De- 
partment policy in November, when 
Patterson directed him to choose no con- 
tractor for a second job if other compe- 
tent firms were available and, when 
repeat contracts were necessary, to select 
only organizations that had completed 
previous assignments in a highly com- 
mendable way. 136 

Meanwhile the advisory committee 
found ways to broaden the basis of 
eligibility. During September it began 
performing "shotgun marriages," nam- 
ing several medium-sized concerns to 
act as joint venturers. Two Atlanta 
firms teamed up to build Camp Stewart, 
Georgia, and two companies from Mem- 
phis undertook construction at Camp 
Forrest, Tennessee. To make these com- 
binations doubly strong, the committee 
pooled specialists — utilities experts, 
earthmovers, and the like — with general 
contractors. "What we needed," said 
Dresser, "was reserve power, so that 
one thing going wrong wouldn't upset 
the whole job." 137 Still there was much 
risk involved, for if the partners proved 
to be incompatible, the project was sure 
to suffer. The committee went as far 
with this method as it dared, employing 
it during 1940 on some thirty-eight con- 



136 May Comm Hearings, Part 1 , p. 50. 

"•(i) Memo, Schulz for TQMG, 13 Sep 40. QM 
600,1 (CPFF) (Policy) I. (2) Final Rpt, Constr Adv 
Comm, 15 Mar 42, p. 3. EHD Files. 

UT Dresser Interv, 2 Apr 57. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



191 



tracts, including two dozen for camp 
construction and engineering work. 138 
The Assignment of Claims Act, approved 
on 9 October, altered the situation more 
profoundly. Under its provisions, a con- 
tractor could, to use Harvey's expres- 
sion, "hock his contract at the bank and 
borrow money on it." 139 Many competent 
firms whose limited assets had heretofore 
barred them from consideration were 
now in the running for camp contracts. 

The magnitude of industrial projects 
and the complexity of the manufacturing 
processes involved precluded wide dis- 
tribution of munitions work. True, the 
Quartermaster Corps succeeded, to some 
extent, in awarding the less challenging 
loading and small arms ammunition 
plants to regional concerns and to com- 
binations of local firms with companies 
of national reputation. In cases of this 
kind, the committee exercised utmost 
care. Reviewing the selection of four 
constructors for the Hoosier Ordnance 
Plant, Harvey said: "As to a camp if you 
make a mistake it is not so terribly vital, 
but as to an ammunition plant it is ex- 
tremely vital that it be handled properly. 
For that reason we thought we should 
get all of the powerful companies we 
could find that were not already en- 
gaged in that type of work." 140 Enlisting 
contractors for Ordnance chemical and 
explosives works was the hardest task 
of all. Because there had been no proj- 
ects of the kind in the United States since 
World War I, only a handful of experi- 
enced men were available. For design 



138 Gonstr Adv Comm, Recommendations Book. 
EHD Files. 

1M (0 54 Stat. I 02g. (a) May Comm Hearings, 
Part l, p. 1 6. (3) OQMG Circ Ltr 92, 7 Nov 40. 
OCE Legal Div Lib. 

140 May Comm Hearings, Part 1 , p. 3. 



and construction of these installations 
the Army had to rely almost entirely 
on a few industrial specialists centered 
in the metropolitan areas of Cleveland, 
Detroit, Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, 
and New York and the engineering de- 
partments of such corporations as Du 
Pont and Hercules. 

To make certain completed plants 
would be acceptable to operators, the 
Construction Division usually followed 
their recommendations. For example, 
at the suggestion of the Proctor & Gamble 
Defense Corporation, the committee se- 
lected the H. K. Ferguson Company of 
Cleveland to design the Wolf Creek 
shell loading plant near Milan, Ten- 
nessee, and to act in combination with 
a local road builder as constructor. Oc- 
casionally, Quartermaster contracts went 
to the operator himself. In September, 
when the time came to place agreements 
for the shell loading plant at Elwood, 
Illinois, Ordnance requested that the 
operator, Sanderson & Porter, also serve 
as architect-engineer and builder. 
Hartman agreed and thus bypassed the 
advisory committee — a circumstance 
which later had the unanticipated re- 
sult of clearing Mr. Blossom of any 
connection with the award to his 
own company. Similarly, Day & 
Zimmermann of Philadelphia, who 
were to operate another shell loader, 
the Iowa Ordnance Plant, were named, 
in this case by the committee, to design 
the installation. Hard pressed to find 
industrial engineers, and generally at 
the insistence of the using service, the 
division accepted several firms for second 
or third contracts. Smith, Hinchman 
and Grylls, especially qualified by their 
long experience with plants in the Detroit 
area, designed two of the early small 



192 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



arms ammunition factories, Lake City 
and Denver. The DuPont Company, 
offering superior technical knowledge 
and demanding that certain processes 
be kept secret, received architect-engi- 
neer-construction contracts for both the 
Indiana powder plant and the ammonia 
works at Morgantown, West Virginia, 
and, in addition, served as consultant 
on the TNT plant at Kankakee, 
Illinois. 1 * 1 

For their work in selecting fixed-fee 
contractors, Harvey, Blossom, and 
Dresser were alternately damned and 
praised. Criticism was inevitable in a 
noncompetitive system of selection. Dis- 
appointed contractors and their sponsors 
voiced many protests. Some accused the 
Construction Advisory Committee of 
prejudice in favor of big business. Others 
hinted that the Quartermaster Corps 
was running a racket or playing politics. 
To those who knew the facts such talk 
was nonsense. Within the War Depart- 
ment the committee's performance was 
recognized as outstanding. "I believe 
the work performed by the mem- 
bers . . . was eminently satis- 
factory and successful and was handled 
honestly and patriotically," said General 
Hartman. "With the limited salaries that 
I was able to pay these men it meant a 
great financial sacrifice on the part of 
all three." 142 Patterson summed up his 
opinion of the committee's work as 
follows: "Careful scrutiny has convinced 
me . . . that the system which has 
been followed provides safeguards against 

141 (i) Memo, Constr Div OQMG for USW, 16 
Jan 41. QM 600.1 (Misc — Jan, Feb, Mar) 1941. (2) 
Memo by Constr Adv Comm, 31 Jan 41, pp. 47, 33, 
39. EHD Files. (3) May Comm Hearings, Part 1, pp. 
197, 166. (4) OCE, Mil Constr Contracts, May 46, 
Part I, Sec 1, p. 43; Part II, Sec 1, p. 151. 

1U Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 12. 



the selection of incompetent contractors, 
that selections have been honestly and 
capably made, that personal favor or 
political influence has played no part 
in the choice of contractors." 14 * In De- 
cember 1940, after personally thanking 
the committee members, Secretary 
Stimson noted in his diary, "They have 
done a fine piece of work" 144 — a judg- 
ment the record abundantly confirmed. 

Negotiating Contracts 

To company officials who waited ex- 
pectantly in the corridors of the Con- 
struction Division, a nod from Loving 
or Lamphere signaled success. Ushered 
into a soundproof office, the prospective 
contractor learned he was under con- 
sideration for such-and-such a job. He 
then was handed a draft of the contract, 
a cost estimate, and a description of the 
work. In addition, he received a question- 
naire about his resources, organization, 
personnel, policies, and plans for the 
project. Presently a team of negotiators 
arrived for the first of several conferences 
leading toward a formal contract. Loving 
and Hartman were usually on hand to 
bargain with construction contractors; 
Lamphere, Sherman, and Tatlow con- 
ducted talks with architect-engineers. 
Negotiations were secret and generally 
required two or three sessions. Because 
the division's representatives were sorely 
pressed for time, these meetings fre- 
quently took place at night. 145 

A dearth of engineering data handi- 
capped the negotiators. Descriptions of 

143 29 Apr 41 . In H Subcomm of the Comm on 
Appns, 77th Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on Military 
Establishment Appropriation Bill Jot 1942, p. 76. 

144 Stimson Diary, 1 7 Dec 40. 

14 * (1 ) Loving, Hist of the FF Br, Apr 41, pp. 3-10. 
(2) Interv with Arthur L. Sherman, 14 Oct 59. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



193 



the jobs were necessarily vague. Loving 
and the others usually knew what types 
of buildings were to be built, how much 
money was budgeted for a project, the 
number of men to be housed at a given 
camp, and the planned daily output of 
a particular munitions plant. Beyond this, 
they had litde specific information. In the 
absence of detailed site surveys, they 
knew almost nothing "as to the actual 
extent of utilities to be constructed or the 
conditions under which the work would 
be undertaken, that is, whether rock 
would be encountered, or quicksand and 
water, or good clay." 146 Contractors 
would find out what was what only after 
they took over the projects. As far as 
difficulty and extent of work was con- 
cerned, the Construction Division of- 
fered them a blind bargain, 

Agreement on terms was more or less 
a routine affair, since the contracts fol- 
lowed standard forms. Among other 
things, building contractors agreed to 
start work immediately, maintain a re- 
sponsible resident manager at the site, 
use the best available labor and ma- 
terials, incorporate into the project any 
materials furnished by the government, 
keep complete records and accounts which 
would be open to inspection at all times, 
take advantage of all discounts, rebates, 
and salvages, and do everything neces- 
sary to complete the job in an acceptable 
manner and with all possible speed. Un- 
der the terms of their contracts, archi- 
tect-engineers pledged to run surveys, 
draw maps, make layouts, prepare es- 
timates, adapt standard plans to the 
sites, design structures for which no 
typical drawings existed, and supervise 



Loving's Testimony, 25 Apr 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 1, p. 342. 



construction. Contractors would re- 
ceive a fee for their services and reim- 
bursement for virtually all expenditures 
except interest, off-site overhead, and 
company officials' salaries. The govern- 
ment reserved the right to terminate the 
contracts at any time and for any cause. 147 
A noteworthy feature of the fixed-fee 
construction agreement was a provision 
that bound the contractors to lease their 
equipment to the government. Rents 
would follow a schedule prepared by 
Loving and endorsed by the AGC. Be- 
cause contractors were supposed to de- 
rive profits solely from their fees, the 
schedule was designed to reimburse them 
for the costs of ownership only, that is, 
for insurance, taxes, and depreciation. 
To protect its equity in leased equip- 
ment, the Construction Division inserted 
a recapture clause into the contracts. 
This clause provided that title would 
pass to the government when accrued 
rentals equaled the value of a machine 
plus one percent for each month used. 
Upon completion of a project, the govern- 
ment would have the right to recapture 
additional pieces of equipment by paying 
the difference between accrued rentals 
and value, plus the one percent per 
month. 148 

In their talks with contractors, Loving 
and Lamphere tried to reach under- 
standings on matters not covered by 
written agreements. They questioned 
each constructor as to how he would 
equip and organize his project, how many 
key men he would assign, what parts 

117 (1) GPFF Form 1, approved by the ASW, 
12 Jul 40. (2) CPFF Form, Architect-Engineer 
Svcs (1940). 

148 (0 GPFF Form 1, approved by the ASW, 12 
Jul 40, art. II, par. 2. (2) Constr Div OQMG, 
Contractors Equip Rental Schedule, Jul 40. 481 
Part 1. 



194 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



of the work he would sublet, and whether 
he would run an open or a closed shop. 
They asked each architect-engineer who 
his top men on the job would be, how 
large a staff he expected to hire, whether 
he would farm out any of the planning to 
other professional concerns, and how he 
proposed to co-ordinate his work with 
that of the constructor. They also tried 
to familiarize contractors with the prob- 
lems ahead. For example. Loving told 
representatives of Starrett Brothers and 
Eken, "You undoubtedly know and 
realize that there is tremendous pressure 
being brought from all localities to uti- 
lize . . . local talent . . . ." 
He advised the New York firm to give 
Florida men "first consideration" for 
subcontracts at Camp Blanding. 149 But, 
because they recognized that contrac- 
tors must be free to make decisions on 
the job, the negotiators did not ask for 
solemn commitments on such questions. 
Nor did they try to dictate methods and 
procedures. "As a matter of fact," 
Loving explained, "we selected these 
men because we had confidence in their 
experience and ability to organize the 
job, and we didn't feel it incumbent 
upon us to tell them exacdy what they 
should do. We felt we were hiring them 
to tell us what to do." 160 

Negotiations frequently hinged on 
questions of fee. The upward limits were 
prescribed by law. The Act of August 7, 
1939, permanently established the maxi- 
mum payment for architect-engineer 
services at 6 percent of estimated cost. 
This statute also provided that fees for 



"* Transcript of Negotiations Between Reps of 
Constr Div and Starrett Bros and Eken, 8 Sep 40. 
Opns Br Files, Confs. 

160 20 May 194,1. In Truman Comm Hearings, 
Part 4, p. 1004. 



construction work must not exceed 10 
percent of estimated cost. On 28 June 
1940 Congress reduced the allowance 
for construction services to 7 percent. 
Two months later it adopted a 6-percent 
limitation on constructors' fees, which 
remained in effect throughout the war. 
Although Congress insisted that fees 
be set at the time of award and adjusted 
only when there was a substantial change 
in the scope of the contract, it prescribed 
no formula for determining them. 151 

Shordy after Loving joined the di- 
vision, Hartman told him to be guided 
by a schedule of minimum construction 
fees developed by the Hogan committee 
and approved by ANMB. This schedule 
established a graduated scale, the fee 
percentage dec reasing as the estimated 
cost increased. (Table 5) Thus, a one- 
million-dollar contract would pay at 
least 5.24 percent, while the minimum 
for a 20-million-dollar job would come 
to 2.5 percent. As the Hogan group 
pointed out, cost was only one measure 
of a project's scope. Recognizing that 
some projects would require a longer 
time to complete, greater resources, and 
more highly specialized management 
than others, Hartman and Loving 
adopted a scale of maximum fees, rang- 
ing up to 20 percent higher than the 
ANMB minimums. Meanwhile, after 
consulting the American Society of Civil 
Engineers and studying the general fee 
practices of federal, state, and municipal 
agencies, Hartman dre w up a sc hedule 
for architect-engineers. (Table 6] These 
fees were average rather than minimum. 
Lamphere was to pay more for compli- 
cated work and less for simple, but to 



»"(0 53 Slat. 1239. (2) 54 Stat. 676. (3) 54 Slat. 
881. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



195 



Table 5 — Schedule of Minimum Fees For Construction Services 



Estimated Cost of Project 


Fixed Fee 


? 100,000 or under 


? 6,000 


300,000 


17,200 


500,000 


27,400 


1,000,000 


52,400 


2,000,000 


94,900 


3,000,000 


127,000 


5,000,000 


175,000 


10,000,000 


300,000 


20,000,000 


500,000 




(Intermediate amounts to be interpolated) 



South: Memo, Hogan Coram, 19 Jun 40, sub: FF Constr Contract. ANMB 334 Comm Members and Min. 



keep within 20 percent of the scheduled 
fees. 162 

Before making an offer, Quartermaster 
negotiators considered the type of proj- 
ect involved and the extent of the services 
to be rendered by the contractor. In 
figuring compensation for relatively sim- 
ple, short-term jobs, such as camps and 
hospitals, Loving adhered rather closely 
to the minimum schedule for construc- 
tion work. His offers for TNT, smokeless 
powder, and other complex manufac- 
turing plants approached maximum 
rates. Projects of intermediate difficulty, 
such as depots, arsenals, and ammuni- 
tion plants, commanded fees about mid- 
way between the minimum and maxi- 
mum scales. The amount of responsi- 
bility a contractor would assume weighed 
heavily in Loving's computations. He 
gave the top fee for a project of any given 
type and cost to contractors who would 
render "complete service." Thus the 
largest fees, in terms of percentage, went 
to contractors who agreed to furnish 



»"(«) Loving, Hist of FF Br, p. 10. (a) Rpt, 
Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Jul 41, p. 106. 



all equipment, procure all materials, 
finance all costs, and perform all work 
not normally subcontracted. For any- 
thing short of complete service, Loving 
made appropriate reductions. Lamphere 
used a similar procedure in appraising 
professional services. He, too, set fatter 
fees for tougher jobs and paid maximum 
rates only to architect-engineers who did 
complete design, made all surveys and 
investigations, helped place orders and 
subcontracts, and supervised construc- 
tion. 163 

Contractors displayed mixed reactions 
to Construction Division proposals. Some 
were "satisfied thoroughly," but many 
protested that their fees were too low. A 
number pointed out that profits on de- 
fense work would compare unfavorably 
with earnings on ordinary commercial 
ventures. 154 Offered $268,298, or 3.5 
percent, for the Blanding job, Andrew 

15S (1) Loving's Testimony, 25 Apr 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 1, pp. 348-49. (a) Rpt, Ac- 
tivities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41, pp. 74-75. (3) 
OCE, Contract Negotiation Manual (Rev 1943), 
pp. 7-8. EHD Files. 

1M Loving's Testimony, 35 Apr 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 1, pp. 349-51. 



196 CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Table 6 — Schedule of Average Fees For Architect-Engineer Services 



Estimated Cost of Project 


Fixed Fee 


% 100,000 


$ 3,000 


500,000 


12,000 


1,000,000 


19,500 


2,000,000 


30,000 


3,000,000 


37,000 


4,000,000 


42,500 


5,000,000 


48,000 


10,000,000 


75,000 


Over 10,000,000 


4 



"0.7S percent of estimated project cost. 

Source: (1) Memo, Hartman for Harrison, 6 Aug 40. QM 600.1 (CPFF) (Policy) I. (2) QM 333.9 (Senate 
Investigation) Part 1. 



J. Eken said, "Well, I don't consider 
3.5 percent a very luscious fee. On the 
other hand, we are down here not just 
for business but also we sincerely want 
to do our part." He accepted the propo- 
sition but reminded Loving, "I still say 
that is a darned low fee." 155 Others were 
less amenable than the president of 
Starrett Brothers and Eken. "We have in 
several instances had to talk to them 
rather plainly," Loving disclosed, "that 
we thought they were making their con- 
tribution to national defense, toward pre- 
serving the market for free enterprise 
as we have known it in the past." 1 * 6 
Although contractors frequently com- 
plained that the Construction Division 
drove hard bargains, they nevertheless 
accepted its offers. 

In choosing the cream of the building 
industry, Hartman selected contractors 
who normally set a high price on their 
services. Fees barely acceptable to top- 
notch constructors and architect-en- 



1K Transcript of Negotiations between Reps of 
Constr Div and Starrett Bros and Eken, 8 Sep 40. 

tM 25 Apr 41. In Truman Comm Hearings, Part 1, 
P- 35°- 



gineers were far more attractive to those 
with less impressive qualifications. In 
fact, there were plenty of firms willing 
to work for smaller profits. But Hartman 
was not looking for cut-rate talent. He 
realized that efficient contractors were 
worth their hire, that money spent for 
good management was never wasted. 
His attitude was summed up in a state- 
ment of the Hogan committee: 

The Government as owner is far less in- 
terested in the amount of the fee paid to 
these agencies than in the savings that can 
be effected in the actual work by proper de- 
sign and proper supervision. These amounts 
far outweigh the combined fees on any 
work .... Furthermore, competi- 
tion in fees does not necessarily produce the 
best and most trustworthy engineer or con- 
tractor. Partners cannot be selected on a 
competitive basis." 7 

Although prominent, gilt-edge con- 
cerns were the mainstay of defense con- 
struction, little fellows also had a part. 
During the early months of the program, 
fixed-price contracts made the talents 



1,7 Ltr, Hogan Comm to Patterson, 30 Jan 41 . 
600.1 Part 8. 



LAUNCHING DEFENSE CONSTRUCTION 



197 



Cantonment Construction, Camp Edwards, Massachusetts, October 1940. 



and resources of many small contractors 
available to the Army. Unequal to the 
big, fast fixed-fee jobs, minor firms that 
normally did a local business were often 
well qualified for lump sum contracts at 
smaller and less urgent projects. More- 
over, their knowledge of local conditions 
and their low overhead gave them a 
competitive advantage over companies 
operating on a national or international 
scale. Totaling some $100,000,000 during 
the second half of 1940, the fixed-price 
program was handled largely by local 
outfits. Of 150 advertised contracts 
amounting to $40,000 or more awarded 
from July through December, 86 percent 
went to firms in the same state as the 
project or in neighboring states. The 
proportion of negotiated fixed-price con- 
tracts placed locally was even higher; 
of 25 such agreements let during this 
same period, only one went to a distant 
concern. In addition, small builders 
and specialty firms shared profitably in 



the program as subcontractors on fixed- 
fee projects. 168 

With the signing of contracts, the way 
was clear for the actual work of moving 
earth and erecting buildings. The pre- 
liminaries had gone swiftly. Between 
issuance of directives for the National 
Guard camps and start of work by fixed- 
fee contractors, an average of only eleven 
days elapsed. The time required for 
other types of projects was not much 
greater, seldom more than three weeks. 1 ™ 
Off to a running start, Hartman had 
reason to be fairly hopeful. If the con- 
tractors took hold quickly, if work could 
be pushed despite the shortage of funds, 
and if winter came late, critical deadlines 
might still be met. 



lM (1) OCE, Mil Constr Contracts, Part 1, Sec. 3, 
passim, (2) OQMG, Constr Contracts Awarded or 
Approved, 12 Nov 4.1, passim. 

161 ( 1 ) G— 4, Constr Hist at Major Stations, 1 940-41 . 
G-4/32439. (2) Constr Div OQMG, List of Direc- 
tives, 15 Mar 41. EHD Files. (3) OQMG, Constr 
Contracts, Awarded or Approved, 19 Nov 41. 



CHAPTER VI 



The First Camps 



As contractors took the field, pressure 
for speed was growing more acute. After 
the fall of France, Britain lay in mortal 
danger. The new Konoye government 
in Japan embarked on a course of ex- 
pansionism. The signing of the Tri- 
partite Pact on 27 September 1940 
brought into being the Rome-Berlin- 
Tokyo axis. A month later Italy invaded 
Greece. This same period witnessed 
positive measures by the Roosevelt ad- 
ministration to insure Great Britain's 
survival and curb Japanese aggression. 
The application of economic sanctions 
against Japan was followed shortly by 
the destroyer deal with Britain and prom- 
ises to Churchill of large-scale aid. Ameri- 
can neutrality was thus reduced to a 
fiction. Meeting preparedness deadlines 
assumed vital importance. The Army 
would have to be ready when the call 
came to fight, or the nation would face 
disaster. 

In launching the defense program, 
President Roosevelt had oudined two 
major objectives: first, a protective force 
and, second, the planes, guns, tanks, and 
ammunition to make this force effective. 
The industrial capacity to equip and 
maintain a modern army could be built 
up only over a period of several years; 
but men could be mobilized and training 
begun almost immediately. The War 
Department was therefore concentrating 
first on increasing the size of the Army. 
If plans to call the National Guard and 



to conscript a citizen army were to suc- 
ceed, camps would have to be provided 
quickly. Emphasizing the critical im- 
portance of this phase of construction, 
General Marshall stated in September 
1940, "It should be understood first of 
all that shelter is the decisive factor in 
our plans." 1 

During August 1940, in response to a 
request from Congress, Hartman made 
known his latest estimate of the time 
required for carrying out the camp pro- 
gram. Housing for one to two million 
men could be ready three or four months 
after locations had been decided on and 
funds had been voted. "Inasmuch as 
certain basic data is available covering 
the existing reservations," he explained, 
"temporary shelter at these reservations 
can be constructed complete with utili- 
ties within three months. At new loca- 
tions certain basic data must be deter- 
mined which . . will require ap- 
proximately one month's time." In these 
calculations, Hartman assumed ideal 
conditions. He warned that strikes, bad 
weather, or shortages of materials would 
cause delays. 2 

General Marshall demanded of 
Hartman not what was feasible but what 
he believed was necessary. Schedules 
imposed on the Construction Division 



1 S Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d scss, Hearings on H R 1057a, p. 5. 

' Memo, TQ.MG for ASW, 12 Aug 40. QM 400.13 
(Mun Program — FY 1941). 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



199 



Table 7 — Schedule for Housing National Guard Divisions 
At Peace Strength— 12,978 Men 



Priority 


Division 


Station 


Occupancy Date 


1 


JUth 


Jackson (o.L.J 


16 September 1V4U 


1 


41st 


Lewis (Wash. J 


Do 


1 


44th 


L>1X (IN. J.) 


Do 


T 
1 


4Jth 


c:ii rr\L}~ \ 


Do 


Tf 
11 


&/tn 


ivicLieuan (/ua.j 


15 vctooer iyw 


II 


31st 


Blanding (Fla.) 


Do 


II 


3 2d 




Do 


II 


35th 


Robinson (Ark.) 


Do 


II 


36th 


Bowie (Tex.) 


Do 


II 


37th 


Shelby (Miss.) 


Do 


III 


34th 


Claiborne (La.) 


15 November 1940 


III 


38th 


Shelby (Miss.) 


Do 


III 


40th 


San Luis Obispo (Cal.) 


Do 


III 


43d 


Blanding (Fla.) 


Do 


IV 


26th 


Edwards (Mass.) 


15 December 1940 


IV 


28th 


Indiantown Gap (Pa.) 


Do 


IV 


29th 


Meade (Md.) 


Do 


IV 


33d 


Grant (111.) 


Do 



Sourct: Memos and Incls, BOWDfor Chiefs Estimating Agencies, 23 and 26 Sep 40. AG 111(9-24-38) (I) Sec 3. 



reflected Marshall's anxiety over the low 
state of the country's defenses. With the 
Army numbering about 270,000 men, 
a big increase in personnel was impera- 
tive. Slashing Hartman's estimate, 
Marshall allowed but two or three months 
for camp construction instead of three or 
four. Going still further, he resorted to 
a risky expedient. To hasten the calling 
of the Guard, he decided to place some 
units in temporary tent camps pending 
completion of winter quarters. 3 

The original timetable for housing 
Guardsmen and selectees was a construc- 
tion man's nightmare. The schedule for 
the Guard camps was particularly rig- 
orous. Counting from 9 September, the 

' (1 ) Memo, G-3 for GofS, 14 Aug 40. (a) Ltr and 
Incls, BOWD to Chiefs of Estimating Agencies, 26 
Aug 40. Both in AG 111 (9-24-38) (1) Sec 3. (3) 
Memo, G— 4 for G— 1, 28 Aug 40. G— 4/31948. 



day appropriations became available, 
Hartman had from one week to three 
months to ready camps for the Guard 
divisions. (Table 7) He also had to ac- 
commodate 132 nondivisional militia 
units of battalion size or under — 22 of 
them in September, 9 in October, 54 in 
November, and 47 in December. The 
schedule for inducting the draftees in- 
troduced additional complications. Be- 
tween 15 October and 15 January the 
fall quota of 400,000 selectees would go 
into Regular Army and Guard units. 
Regulars and Guardsmen could rough it 
for a time, using field tents and latrines. 
But, Congress made it clear, draftees 
could not. Snug barracks, toilets, showers, 
heating, and electric lights would have 
to be available when they arrived. In 
other words, camps would have to be 
virtually completed. The plan for in- 



200 CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Table 8 — Revised Induction Schedule for Fall 1940 Quota of Selectees 



Dite 


Strength 


Employment 


IS November 1940 


74,142 


To bring Regular Army units (except Air Corps) in southern 
Corps Areas to war strength and Regular Army units in 
northern Corps Areas part way to war strength. 


5 December 1940 


49,765 


To bring the First Priority National Guard to war strength. 


IS December 1940 


65,872 


To bring the Second Priority National Guard to war strength. 


IS January 1941 


112,347 


To complete bringing Regular Army units in northern Corps 
Areas to war strength, to bring the Third Priority 
National Guard to war strength, and to establish a re- 
placement center for the Armored Force. 


IS February 1941 


97,874 


To bring the Fourth Priority National Guard to war strength 
and to activate certain inactive nondivisional units of the 
Regular Army. 



Sourer: Memo, Reybold for TQMG, 12 Sep 40. G-4/3 1453-1 8. 



ducting the spring quota of selectees 
would force the Quartermaster Corps 
to build under most adverse conditions. 
To be called between i April and 15 
June 1 94 1, the 400,000 men of this 
second levy would, with few exceptions, 
go directly to replacement training cen- 
ters. Slated to begin in October and 
November, construction of these centers 
would span the winter months when 
outdoor work normally was suspended.* 
Although Marshall eased induction 
schedules slighdy, he made no corre- 
sponding changes in construction dead- 
lines. The Selective Service Act provided 
that the first "goldfish bowl" drawing 
would not take place until 16 October 
1940 and the first draftees would not 
report before 15 November. Marshall 
revised the schedule f or the fal l quota 
of selectees accordingly. ( Table 8) Reports 
from corps areas indicated that lack of 
shelter might delay certain Guard induc- 
tions. On advice from the commanding 



generals, Marshall wrote question marks 
beside entry dates for some of the Guard 
divisions. Still, pressure on Hartman did 
not abate. He could not safely assume 
that Marshall would postpone calls to 
any Guard divisions. Nor could he get 
additional time to prepare housing for 
the draftees. Reybold, knowing it would 
be difficult and costly for a contractor 
first to build for a peace strength division 
of 13,000 Guardsmen and then, after 
these troops moved in, to work for 
several months expanding facilities to 
take the 5,000 draftees who would bring 
the division to war strength, ruled out 
such "piecemeal construction." The date 
Guardsmen were slated to arrive was, 
in most instances, the completion date 
for the entire camp.* 

Despite the extreme demands made 
upon him, General Hartman appeared 



18. 



* Memo, G-3 for Marshall, 1 4 Aug 40. G-4/3 1 453- 



*(«) Watson, Chief of Staff, p. 204. (2) Notes 
of Confs in OCofS, 29, 30 Aug 40. (3) Notes of Conf 
in Office DCofS, 6 Sep 40. Both in OCS, Misc Confs, 
20 May to 25 Sep 40. (4) Memo, SGS for G-4, 30 
Aug 40. G-4/3 1 948. (5) Memo, Reybold for Mar- 
shall, 30 Aug 40. G-4/31735-1. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



201 



confident. To Congressman Taber's ques- 
tion, "The Guard setup may be ready 
or completed, perhaps by December i?" 
he replied, "Yes, sir. Some of [the 
camps] . . . will be completed be- 
fore that time." 6 Hartman was under 
no illusion that he could finish every 
item of construction on schedule. That 
was patently impossible. But he could 
fill minimum requirements in time for 
mobilization to proceed generally ac- 
cording to plan. 

The Administrative Setup 

Directing construction operations was 
an organization patterned on the model 
that had proved successful in World 
War I. Now, as then, a central head- 
quarters formulated policies, issued stand- 
ard instructions, checked on progress, 
field costs, and accounting, and rendered 
assistance to forces in the field. From 
Washington the line of authority ran 
directly to the job sites. There, Con- 
structing Quartermasters were virtually 
supreme. In Hartman*s opinion, an 
organization of this type ensured close 
co-operation between the Construction 
Division and the projects. Moreover, it 
eliminated delays which inevitably oc- 
curred when work was controlled through 
regional offices. 

One of two headquarters groups 
charged by Hartman with overseeing 
construction in the field, Major Violante's 
Lump Sum Branch was a going concern 
when the emergency began. Under other 
names, Building and New Construction, 
the branch had served since the early 



' Hartman'g Testimony, 19 Sep 40. In H Subcomm 
of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 3d sess, Hearings 
on Third Supplemental National Defense Appropriation for 
W> P- 57- 



twenties as the principal point of contact 
between the central office and the 
CQM's. As the defense program took 
shape, Violante strengthened the or- 
ganization for a big endeavor. He chose 
as his executive Maj. Orville E. Davis, 
a construction officer since 1920. He 
called from the field one of the young 
West Pointers, ist Lt. William A. Davis, 
Jr., and drew from the Reserve Corps 
an able civil engineer, Capt. Donald E. 
Antes. He assembled a staff of fifty 
civilians. Successful in obtaining bids 
for early harbor defense and troop 
housing projects, he proposed to Hartman 
that camps, depots, hospitals, and plants 
be constructed by the lump sum method. 
A switch to fixed-fee, he contended, 
was "unwarranted and unjustified." 7 
Hartman disagreed. He considered 
Violante's plan unworkable. 

Overshadowing the Lump Sum Branch 
in size and importance was Loving's 
Fixed Fee Branch. Established in June 
1940, the organization resembled the 
Buil ding Division of World War I. 
{(Chart 5)] Adopting the same plan that 
Colonel Whitson had employed in 1917- 
1 8, Loving appointed a number of Super- 
vising Constructing Quartermasters 
(SCQM's), each responsible for five or 
six projects of similar character. He 
placed groups of SCQM's under lettered 
sections which specialized in construction 
of particular types. Chiefs of these sec- 
tions reported to Loving, who drew as- 
sistance from four staff sections, Ad- 
ministrative, Equipment, Requirements, 
and Statistical. Designed for flexibility, 
the organization could be readily ex- 
panded. As the program grew, more 



7 Ltr, Violante to EHD, 25 Sep 57, See also Orgn 
Chart of Lump Sum Br, 15 Oct 40. EHD Files. 




SECTION 
Sharp 




c 
o 

si 

9 1 
ui E 


UJ r 

> * 




u» . 
J 


M 
si 

2 * 




St 

0. ra 

5 7 


D 
< 




si 
s 



5 1 

en E> 
c a. s * 
o r 

w * S « 

2 1 
O I 



a 



s s 

— * o 
Ogcl 

3-1 

£ * 
o o 
u 



u .2 
a. S 



CO 



I 6 




THE FIRST CAMPS 



203 



SCQM's could be added and, if need be, 
whole new lettered sections formed. 
Hartman gave the Fixed Fee Branch a 
critical assignment. It would direct all 
fixed-fee forces in the field. It would 
serve as his principal inspection agency. 
Most important, it would be accountable 
for the progress, quality, and cost of 
every fixed-fee project. 8 

Like Whitson in 191 7, Loving as- 
sembled an organization of experienced 
construction men. Totaling about one 
hundred persons by 1 November, his staff 
included but one Quartermaster Regu- 
lar, Captain Kirkpatrick. The others 
came from civil life. Robert L. Totten 
was a prominent civil and mining en- 
gineer. Francis J. O'Brien had been a 
top engineer in the Tennessee Valley 
Authority. Lacy Moore had been en- 
gineer of construction for the Southern 
Railway System. Frank R. Creedon had 
been assistant regional PWA director 
in New York City. Sperl, who became 
Loving's principal troubleshooter, had 
served in a similar capacity in World 
War I. Of the officers, all except 
Kirkpatrick had come from the Reserve 
Corps or had received direct commis- 
sions. Before joining Loving, Capt. 
Robert L. Richardson was an equipment 
dealer and designer, Maj. Maurice W. 
Cochran was a successful highway en- 
gineer and contractor, and Maj. Chester 
J. Clark was an industrial construction 
man who had superintended plant proj- 
ects for General Motors and U. S. Rub- 
ber. Highly qualified men occupied 
many subordinate positions. Of course, 



•(0 OQMG Office Order 29A, 15 Jun 40. QM 
020 (Constr). (a) Tab, Constr Div OQMG, 1 Nov 
40, sub: Civ Pers, Washington and Vicinity. Opns 
Br Files, Pers. 



the organization included some who were 
not so well qualified. The general short- 
age of construction specialists prevented 
Loving from filling all openings with 
experienced men. 

Much depended on Quartermaster 
forces in the field. On fixed-fee projects 
the position of Constructing Quarter- 
master was a demanding one. Limited 
only by general instructions from Wash- 
ington, the CQM was responsible for the 
conduct of his job. He dealt with local 
commanders, coordinated efforts of the 
constructor and architect-engineer, ap- 
proved all purchases and subcontracts, 
and had charge of reimbursing con- 
tractors for their expenditures. He had to 
submit regular progress reports to Hart- 
man and advise him immediately if 
normal purchasing procedures seemed 
likely to break down or other troubles 
threatened. He had to employ every 
means to complete the project within the 
funds and time allotted. To carry out his 
assignment, the CQM needed a compe- 
tent staff of commissioned officers and a 
large number of trained employees. 9 

Among Hartman's CQM's, Reservists 
outnumbered Regulars five to one. Ex- 
cept for a dozen or so retained at central 
headquarters, virtually all of his career 
officers were in the field. The ablest and 
most experienced headed Vicinity of- 
fices or directed key jobs. The rest had 
charge of lesser projects or served as 
assistants. Other Quartermaster Regu- 
lars, experts in supply and transporta- 
tion with some background in post 
maintenance, served as construction 
officers. Ordnance officers became Con- 



• OQMG Manual, Supplement to Guide for 
CQM's, Rev 1940, Covering FF Projects, 27 Aug 40. 
EHD Files. 



204 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Table 9 — Reserve Officers on Active Duty With Construction Division 

13 December 1940 



orancn 


Lieutenant 
i^oioneis 


Majors 


Captains 


i« 

Lieutenants 


2d 

Lieutenants 


Total 
(ny Branch) 


_ 

Orand I otal 












oeo 


lOtai \Oy 


1 L 


/.ft 




4VJT 


01 




Corps of Engineers 


1 
1 


10 


ft! 


JO 


14. 


173 
1/ J 


Infantry 


7 

L 


1 c 

i j 


Oj 


Or 




loo 


Quartermaster Corps 


4 


17 


31 


37 


32 


121 


Field Artillery Corps 


2 


6 


41 


39 


10 


98 


Coast Artillery Corps 


1 


S 


13 


39 


8 


66 


Cavalry 




1 


IB 


13 


1 


33 


Ordnance Department 


2 




4 


1 


2 


9 


Signal Corps 




1 


3 


1 




S 


Chemical Warfare Service 




3 


1 






4 


Sanitary Corps 




1 




1 




2 


Finance Department 






2 






2 


Special 






2 






2 


Military Intelligence Division 






1 


1 




2 


Judge Advocate General's 






1 






1 


Department 















Source: Memo, OQMG Constr Div for Admin Div, 14 Dec 40. QM 326.21 — Assignment of Reserve Officers for Active Duty. 



structing Quartermasters at six of the 
early plants. Still there were scarcely 
more than 120 Regulars on duty outside 
Washington. Only by liberal use of his 
priority on Reserve officers could 
Hartman staff his projects. By 13 De- 
cember 686 Reservists had answered calls 
to construction duty. {Table g) About 
fifty of these officers remained in the 
central office, the others went to the 
field. The Reservists represented a wide 
range of training and experience. There 
were contractors, architects, and men 
from every branch of engineering. There 
were former CCC officers, road builders, 
bridge builders, dam builders, power 
plant specialists, railway construction 
men, estimators, surveyors, a trucking 
firm executive, and a hardware mer- 
chant. There were men with advanced 
degrees and men with high school diplo- 



mas, men with outstanding qualifica- 
tions and men whose principal recom- 
mendation was their availability. 19 The 
field officers, Regulars and Reservists, 
were the best that could be had at the 
time and, by and large, the best was 
quite good. "There were some bad eggs," 
Kirkpatrick said, "but on the whole 
they were as hardworking, conscientious, 
and intelligent a group as anyone will 
ever be able to get together in so short 
a time." 11 

Efforts to provide Constructing Quar- 
termasters with adequate staffs of civilian 
assistants were not wholly successful. At 
the outset hiring was obstructed by the 



"(1) List of CQM's (Dec 40). Opns Br Files, 
Weather Rpts. (a) Incls with Memo, OQMG Admin 
Br for Maj Garrison H. Davidson, 9 Aug 41. Opns 
Br Files, CQM. 

11 Incl with Ltr, Kirkpatrick to EHD, 2 Jun 53. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



205 



Civil Service rule that employees must 
be drawn from lists of eligibles. These 
lists yielded few persons with the re- 
quired skills. Repeated complaints from 
the field at length caused Gregory to 
appeal to Commissioner Arthur S. Flem- 
ming, who agreed to relax the rule; but 
district offices of the Civil Service, pre- 
sumably misled by the vague language 
of the commission's directives, refused 
to change their methods. When Con- 
structing Quartermasters continued to 
complain, Gregory asked the commission 
to step aside and let Hartman do his 
own hiring. Flemming refused but made 
concessions. He agreed to send a special 
representative to every new project with 
orders to fill all jobs immediately with or 
without benefit of Civil Service registers. 
He also agreed that a Constructing 
Quartermaster might, in the absence of a 
special representative, hire whomever he 
wished with assurance of the commission's 
eventual approval. Put into practice late 
in September, the new system virtually 
eliminated delays in hiring. But it could 
not supply a full, competent staff for 
every project. The nationwide shortage 
of experienced personnel, the compara- 
tively low level of government salaries, 
the lack of adequate housing near proj- 
ect sites, the brief duration of most con- 
struction jobs — these difficulties severely 
handicapped the work. 12 

Hartman entrusted the main work of 
construction not to the Quartermaster 
field but to contractors. Having hired 



u (i) CSC Circ Ltr 2990, 15 Aug 40. EHD Files, 
(a) OQMG Circ Ltr 69, 16 Sep 40. EHD Files. (3) 
Ltr, Flemming to Patterson, 24 Sep 40. (4) CSC 
Circ Ltr 3045, 36 Sep 40. Last two in Opns Br Files, 
Pers, Dec 40-Apr 41 , (5) Memo, Maj S. P. Simpson, 
OASW, for ASW, ia Nov 40. Madigan Files, 100.3 
FF Br, Constr Div— Orgn. 



the best architectural, engineering, and 
construction firms available, he gave 
them a large measure of independence. 
Constructing Quartermasters got orders 
"to go the contractor's way, so long as 
fundamental laws are not violated and 
the Government's interests are pro- 
tected." In a circular to the field, 
Kirkpatrick summed up the attitude of 
the Construction Division: 

The contractors selected to cooperate with 
the Government and contribute their re- 
sources, experience, and skill toward the ac- 
complishment of the projects include in their 
organizations men of unquestionable in- 
tegrity and patriotism. Their success in the 
commercial world establishes their abilities. 
Their judgment along the lines of their quali- 
fications is entitled to the highest of faith and 
credit. The monetary compensation they will 
receive is comparatively modest as indicated 
by the fees allowed. The general intent of 
the special legislation, the negotiations there- 
under, and the contracts is clearly that the 
contractors shall be made whole for their 
out-of-pocket expenditures .... Any 
action which conforms to such general intent 
is entitled to approval. 1 * 

Although fixed-fee agreements gave 
Hartman "power of the purse" over 
his contractors, he did not wish to use 
that power to dictate working methods 
to leading architect-engineers and con- 
structors. 

Preliminary Work at Camp Sites 

Contractors took on their assignments, 
determined to succeed. The AGC pledged 
its members to do all that was asked of 
them and more. 14 Company officials 



>' OQMG Constr Div FF Ltr 5, 7 Oct 40. Sec 
also Constr Div OQMG, Supplemental Guide for 
CQM's, 37 Aug 40, p. 4; Constr Div OQMG FF 
Ltrs i, 24 Sep 40, and 9, 15 Oct 40. 

14 The Constructor, July 1940, p. 51. 



206 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 





Clearing Swamps at Camp Blanding, Florida 



promised as much. "Our conception of 
our mission here [at Camp Edwards]," 
declared a spokesman for the Walsh 
Construction Company, "is that we are 
to throw all our talents and resources 
into the accomplishment of this work." 15 
During negotiations for the Blanding 
contract, Andrew Eken assured Loving: 
"We will do everything faithfully and 
with all zest. We are going to get right 
on this project." Loving had to restrain 
Eken from starting work before signing 



"Ltr, C. D. Riddle to CQM Camp Edwards, 10 
Oct 40. 65a (Gp Edwards) I. 



the contract. 19 Other contractors dis- 
played the same spirit. Hurrying to the 
job sites, builders pressed to get work 
under way, while architect-engineers 
hastened their preparations. 

The first men on the ground were 
usually soils engineers and surveyors out 
"running the gun." As they took topo, 
sank bore holes, and analyzed samples 
of soil, these men gave an engineer's 
appraisal of the sites. Many of the tracts 



18 Transcript of Negotiations Between Reps of 
Constr Dtv and Starrett Bros and Eken, 8 Sep 40. 
Opns Br Files, Confs. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



207 



were excellent — level, well drained, and 
easy to build on. Others posed only minor 
problems. Some were clearly undesirable. 
At one place surveyors had to go in boats 
to take property corners. Elsewhere re- 
connaissance parties found rugged ter- 
rain, thick vegetation, subsurface rock, 
swamps, bogs, and boiling sands. The 
engineers suggested abandoning a num- 
ber of locations. But time would be lost 
in moving. So urgent was camp con- 
struction that the Army refused, except 
in the most unusual circumstances, to 
find better locations and start over 
again. 17 

The only site abandoned was a 40,000- 
acre tract near Leon, Iowa. Congress had 
authorized acquisition of this land in 
1939 but had voted no funds for its pur- 
chase. Nothing further happened until 
the summer of 1940, when a corps area 
board went to investigate. Generally 
favorable, the board's report listed an 
abundant water supply among the site's 
advantages. Feeling that the Army was 
committed to the Iowa site, General 
Marshall approved Leon for a 35,000- 
man cantonment, to be named for Gen- 
eral Leonard Wood, even though the 
corps area commander recommended 
another, larger site near Rolla, Mis- 
souri. Hartman had already let the con- 
tracts when he discovered in mid-October 
that something was wrong. Checking 
through appraisals in Colonel Valliant's 
office, he saw that land in south-central 
Iowa, which had brought $250 an acre 
during World War I, was now bringing 
$16 an acre. He ordered an immediate 
investigation by the architect-engineers. 



17 ( 1 ) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41 , 
p. 7. (2) Answers to Questionnaire, Thomas to EHD, 
31 May 56. (3) QM 333,1 (Cp Davis). (4)0-4/31981. 



Their preliminary report, completed on 
25 October, disclosed a critical shortage 
of water. Since igi8 the water table had 
dropped sixty feet. The nearest surface 
supply was a small stream thirty miles 
distant that normally ran dry in summer. 
The cost of impounding enough water 
for the camp would run to $1,250,000. 
On the basis of this report and a similar 
one from an Engineer Reservist, an lowan 
on duty with the Seventh Corps Area, 
Reybold on 31 October suspended work 
at Leon. Six days later Marshall trans- 
ferred the project to Rolla. It was a leap 
from the frying pan into the fire. The 
new site was seventeen miles from the 
nearest railroad. Estimating that a spur 
track would cost at least $1,400,000, 
Hartman suggested placing the camp 
closer to the main line of the St. Louis 
and San Francisco. 18 In no mood to enter- 
tain such a proposal, Reybold replied, 
"It is not desired to delay this project 
by further search for a more suitable 
site." 19 That settled the matter. But con- 
struction was a bigger job than anyone 
anticipated. Passing through the foot- 
hills of the Ozarks and over the Big 
Piney River, the railroad cost more than 
three million dollars and took nearly five 
months to build. 20 

As reports came in from survey parties, 



18 (1) Summary, Constr Div OQMG, n.d., Events 
Leading Up to Acqu isition and Use of Ft Wood, Mo. 
Opns Br Files, Misc Papers. (2) QM 601. 1 
(7th CA). (3) Truman Comm Hearings, Part a, pp. 
61 a, 693-703. (4) Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 
55. P 9- (5) AG 6801 (7-1 1-40) (0 Sec a. (6) 
G-4/30997. (7) Memo, Hartman for Reybold, 
34 Nov 40. 600.94 (Ft L. Wood). 

" D/S, G-4 to TAG, 37 Nov 40. 600.94 ( Ft L - 
Wood). 

10 (1) Ltr, Alvord, Burdick & Howson to GQM 
Ft Leonard Wood, Mo., 23 Apr 41. 600.94 (Ft L. 
Wood). (2) Ltr, OQMG to ICC, 28 Jul 41. 617 
(Ft L. Wood). 



208 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Railroad Bridge Over Big Piney River, Camp Leonard Wood, Missouri 



architect-engineers started adapting 
typical layouts to sites. Incomplete and 
tentative, the typicals nevertheless served 
as good working guides. From them the 
engineers quickly ascertained the Army's 
principal requirements. Every unit, large 
and small, would remain intact. Com- 
panies would be grouped into battalions 
and battalions into regiments. Regi- 
mental areas would adjoin a central 
parade ground. Hospitals would be in 
isolated spots, away from noise and dirt. 
Storage depots and motor parks would 
be near railway sidings or along main 
roads. To prevent the spread of fire, one- 
story buildings would be at least 40 feet 
apart; two-story buildings, 50. Fire- 
breaks, no less than 250 feet wide, would 
be spaced at 1 ,000-foot intervals through- 
out the length of the camp. Showing grid- 
platted streets and straight rows of 



buildings, the typicals envisaged a quad- 
rangular arrangement. Seldom could this 
pattern be adhered to strictly, and radical 
changes were often necessary to adjust 
the standard layouts to local terrain and 
conditions. 

In laying out camps, architect-engi- 
neers labored under serious handicaps. 
Except to the half dozen or so firms with 
World War I experience, the task was 
unfamiliar; most had never before at- 
tempted a layout involving so many 
different buildings and such vast acreage. 
Virtually no lead time was available, 
for engineers were seldom more than a 
few paces ahead of constructors. Con- 
ditions at some hastily chosen sites 
precluded good layouts. For instance, 
the cantonment area at Indiantown Gap, 
Pennsylvania, was a narrow stretch of 
rolling land at the foot of a mountain. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



209 



The only practical solution was to extend 
the camp in a straight line for three and 
one-half miles along the bottom of the 
slope. To cite another example, at San 
Luis Obispo, California, where a hilly 
reservation hugged the Coastal Range, 
regimental areas had to be scattered to 
take advantage of stretches of relatively 
flat ground. Even this arrangement re- 
quired removal of two million cubic 
yards of earth. 41 Finally, there was the 
problem of military commanders versus 
construction specialists. 

By the late summer of 1940 corps area 
commanders had become virtual dic- 
tators in matters of layout. In June 
General Moore had decided that, in 
order to save time, questions of layout 
would be settled on the spot. Accord- 
ingly, Hartman told his Constructing 
Quartermasters to confer with local 
commanders and try to satisfy their re- 
quirements. As soon as a tentative lay- 
out was ready, construction would be- 
gin. The plan would then come to the 
Construction Division for review and 
approval. Under this arrangement, com- 
manders had their way much of the 
time, for Regular major and lieutenant 
generals headed corps areas, while cap- 
tains, majors, and lieutenant colonels, 
many of them Reservists, served as 
Constructing Quartermasters. Still the 
corps area commanders were dissatisfied. 



M (i) Rpt, Slaughter, Saville & Blackburn, Inc., 
to Chief Constr Div OQMG, 13 Jan 41, Analysis of 
Deficiencies on Lump Sum and FF Contracts for 
Constr, pp. 5-6, 1 1 -1 2. EHD Files. Cited hereinafter 
as Slaughter, Saville & Blackburn Rpt. (a) Rpt, 
Constr Div OQMG, n.d., Explanation of Increased 
Costs at Indiantown Gap. Opns Br Files, Loose 
Papers. (3) Memo, TIG for CofS, 18 Nov 40. Opns 
Br Files, IG Rpts. (4) Ltr, CQM Cp San Luis 
Obispo to TQMG, 19 Feb 41. 600.94 (San Luis 
Obispo). 



They demanded authority to approve 
or disapprove layouts, and General 
Moore gave it to them. Hartman pro- 
tested strongly but in vain. Henceforth, 
commanders had the power to overrule 
professional engineers and construction 
officers. Some commanders used this 
power to insist on layouts which offered 
minor training advantages, enhanced 
the beauty of the camps, or favored 
long-range interests of the National 
Guard, but which ignored sound en- 
gineering principles. At Meade, Edwards, 
Forrest, Blanding, and several other key 
projects, plans imposed by corps area 
commanders greatly increased construc- 
tion costs and hindered progress. 24 

Major Groves, making his rounds of 
the projects, was struck not so much by 
the commanders' neglect of engineering 
factors as by their inability to appreciate 
end-use requirements. At Camp Shelby, 
Mississippi, he saw a layout which placed 
units a long way from maneuver areas. 
If this plan went through, many hours of 
training time would be lost in moving 
men back and forth. At Camp Bowie, 
Texas, he learned that, for no apparent 
reason, the warehouse area was to be 
outside the camp proper. At Fort Ord, 
California, he found that the layout 
allowed almost no room for expansion. 
The same was true of other projects in 
the Ninth Corps Area. In fact, some bat- 
talion areas at San Luis Obispo were so 
small that buildings already authorized 



M (i) WD Ltr AG 600.1 a (6-15-40) M-D-M, 
15 Jun 40, sub: WD Constr Policy. G—4/31751. {2) 
Memo, Moore for Hartman, 15 Jul 40. 65a (Ft 
Knox) I. (3) Ltr, Constr Div to CQM Ft Lewis, 10 
Jul 40. 652 (Ft Lewis) I. (4) TWX, TAG to CG 
Ninth Corps Area, 25 Jul 40. 652 (Ft Ord) I. (5) 
Memo, Lump Sum Br for Hartman, 3 Oct 40, and 
notation thereon. Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp. (6) 
Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 9. 



210 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Camp San Luis Obispo, California 



could not be squeezed into them. Largely 
because of Groves' efforts these mistakes 
were corrected before construction be- 
gan. That such mistakes occurred at all 
was, in his opinion, a strong argument for 
centralized control. 2 * 

Handicapped as they were, the Quar- 
termaster Corps and its engineering con- 
tractors did a commendable job with 



u ( i ) Memos, Groves for Gregory, 9 Sep 40, 1 a 
Aug 40, 1 Oct 40, 30 Aug 40. Opns Br Files, Rpts of 
Insp. (a) Groves Comments, VI, 3-4. (3) Memo, 
Groves for Gregory, 28 Oct 40. Opns Br Files, 
Convention in Chicago. (4) Ltr, Groves to OCMH, 22 
Jul 55- 



layouts. Camps designed in the summer 
and fall of 1940 functioned effectively 
as training centers throughout the war. 
Some of them served as models in sub- 
sequent planning. Produced by engi- 
neers of the J. B. McCrary Corporation, 
who had only the typical for an Infantry 
brigade to guide them, the layout for 
Camp Stewart, Georgia, influenced the 
design of later antiaircraft firing centers. 
The armored division camp at Fort 
Benning, laid out by the CQM, Lt. Col. 
James R. Alfonte, with the help of tank 
corps officers, became the prototype for 
projects of its kind. Frequently cited as 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



211 



the ideal layout, the plan for Gamp 
Robinson, Arkansas, became a widely 
used model. Black & Veatch, the archi- 
tect-engineers, had laid out Camp Pike 
at the same location during World War 
I. Noteworthy features of their plan for 
Robinson included a compact arrange- 
ment of regimental areas; short roads 
and utilities lines; a centrally located 
storage depot; and an unusually good 
concept for landscaping and site develop- 
ment. Other first-rate plans, particularly 
those for Bowie, Custer, and Shelby, 
helped point the way to solutions of trou- 
blesome layout problems. 24 

Once they had layouts under way, 
architect-engineers fell to work on struc- 
tural plans and blueprints. It was a big 
undertaking. Camp Edwards, a can- 
tonment, had 1,400 buildings. Including 
tent frames, Camp Livingston had nearly 
9,000. And buildings were but part of 
the job. Architect-engineers also had to 
plan water, gas, and electric lines; sani- 
tary sewers and sewage disposal plants; 
and streets, roads, and railroads. Only 
by adhering closely to the Quartermaster 
typicals could they possibly accomplish 
all this work within the allotted time. 
Hartman's orders to them emphasized 
this fact. In adapting standard plans 
to the locale, they were to recommend 
changes that would expedite construc- 
tion, but to avoid drastic, wholesale re- 
visions. Such alterations as were neces- 
sary had to be made quickly. CQM's 



"(i) Memo, Groves for Chief Engrg Br, 10 May 
41. Opns Br Files, Cps & Cantons, (s) Truman 
Comm Rpt 480, Part a, p. 15. (3) Rpt, OTIG to 
TIG, 21 Oct 40. Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. (4) Memo, 
Groves for Gregory, 31 Oct 40. Opns Br Files, Con- 
vention in Chicago. (5) Black & Veatch, Cp Robin- 
son, Ark., Landscape Development Plan, Nov 40. 
Opns Br Files, Land Dev Plan. 



had authority to approve minor changes, 
but they had to clear major ones by tele- 
phone or telegraph with Washington. 
Hartman warned architect-engineers to 
forget perfection. Their principal goal, 
as he defined it, was not quality but 
speed. 28 

That much sound planning could be 
accomplished swiftly was demonstrated 
at Camp Edwards by the firm of Charles 
T. Main. Colonel Gunby, a director of 
the company, was the project's chief 
engineer. On 12 September, the same 
day the contract was signed, he moved 
to the site with his key men and set up 
offices in barracks belonging to the 
Massachusetts National Guard. He ra- 
pidly increased his staff to 300 men. 
Pushing work at top speed, he made a 
few desirable changes in Quartermaster 
typicals; for example, he relocated hot 
air ducts to reduce fuel requirements and 
redesigned foundations to cut down on 
excavation. He turned the revised typi- 
cals over to the Walsh Construction 
Company, whose draftsmen assembled 
all details for a given building on a sin- 
gle sheet. After checking these sheets, 
Gunby sent them to his blueprint de- 
partment, which worked around the 
clock to supply construction foremen 
with working drawings. To expedite 
planning of communications and utilities 
systems, he called in expert consultants. 
So rapid was Gunby's progress that work- 
men started pouring foundations on 18 
September. Moreover, his plans were 



(1 ) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40-Nov 41, 
pp. 148, 164. (2) Circ, Constr Div OQMG, 28 Sep 
40, Exterior Utilities. EHD Files. (3) Ltr, Nurse to 
CQM Cp Forrest, 27 Sep 40, sub: Instrs and Data 
for A-E's. 652 (Cp Forrest) Part 1. (4) Constr Div 
OQMG CPFF Ltrs 1, 24 Sep 40, and 9, 16 Oct 40. 



212 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



so well suited for defense construction 
that the Army later reproduced them 
for use at other projects. 18 

For many architect-engineers the going 
was hard at first. Some started their 
projects with insufficient knowledge of 
what they were to do. At Camp Shelby 
the firm of Lockwood-Greene, confused 
as to its duties, made a weak beginning. 
Sent to investigate, Sperl found a small 
group reproducing Quartermaster typi- 
cals, while construction forces marked 
time waiting for layouts and working 
drawings. No member of the firm was 
there to take charge. When Sperl ex- 
plained what needed to be done, three 
officials of Lockwood-Greene hastened 
to the scene, bringing reinforcements 
with them. The building contractor, the 
J. A. Jones Construction Company, 
pitched in and helped the engineers. 
Soon the job was humming. At other 
projects the story was much the same. 
The work was more complicated and 
extensive than the architect-engineers 
had anticipated. For example, Koch & 
Fowler arrived at Camp Bowie believing 
that architectural work had been vir- 
tually completed by Lamphere and his 
aides only to find that, because of a de- 
cision to heat with Texas natural gas 
instead of coal, building plans had to 
be revised. In their early phases, proj- 
ects were frequendy delayed for lack of 
plans, but such delays were usually of 
short duration. Displaying the abilities 
that had won them their contracts, ar- 
chitect-engineers quickly mastered the 
techniques of emergency design and 



»(i) Compl Rpt, F. M. Gunby, 4 Jun 41, A-E's 
Rpt on Cp Edwards. (3) Memo, Tatlow for Red, 9 
Nov 40. QM 333.1 (Cp Edwards) 1940. (3) Ltr, 
Walsh Constr Co. to Sperl, 13 Aug 56. EHD Files. 



were soon keeping pace with construc- 
tors. 87 

Inexperienced Constructing Quarter- 
masters, like architect-engineers un- 
versed in emergency methods, were' apt 
to make mistakes. In the interest of 
speed, project officers had assumed an 
important role in planning. How far 
typicals would be altered was largely up 
to them. It was a test of their firmness 
and good judgment, for local command- 
ers besieged them with demands for 
better facilities and architect-engineers 
attempted to embellish the Quarter- 
master's simple designs. Awed by the 
commanders' rank, impressed by the 
engineers' professional standing, uncer- 
tain of their own authority, many of the 
new construction officers failed to en- 
force mobilization standards strictly. An 
elaborate road net at Camp Bowie and 
costly utilities lines at Fort Riley were 
conspicuous instances of overdesign. 28 
At Camps Livingston and Claiborne, 
Hartman's temporary designs under- 
went such radical changes that, in 
the words of one inspector, there 
remained "nothing of a temporary 
nature about the camps, except the 



»'(i) TWX, Gregory to CQM Cp Shelby, ai 
Sep 40. 652 (Cp Shelby) I. (a) Sperl Interv, 18 Jun 
56; Kirkpatrick Interv, 4 Apr 51. (3) Memo, Groves 
for Gregory, 1 Oct 40. QM 333.1 1939-40. (4) Ltr, 
Maj John A. Hunt, IGD, to OTIG, 5 Oct 40. G- 
4/3t735 s « II. (5) Compl Rpt, Cp Bowie, pp. a, 
Bi-Ba. (6) Memo, FF Br for Hartman, 39 Oct 40. 
QM 600.914. 

*• ( 1 ) Ltr, Lump Sum Br to CQM Cp Bowie, a 1 
Dec 40. 65a (Cp Bowie) I. (2) Ltr, ZCQM Chicago 
to TQMG, 28 Jan 41. 653 (Cp Grant) I. (3) Compl 
Rpt, Cp Callan, 30 Aug 41, p. 9. (4) Memo, TIG 
for CofS, 33 Oct 40. Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. (5) Ltr, 
Long-Manhattan-Watson, Ft Riley, Kans., to H 
Comm on Mil Affs, 31 May 41 . Opns Br Files, Loose 
papers. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



213 



tentage . . . ." M Countless other 
deviations occurred. Fortunately most 
of them were slight. Given the speed of 
the program and the inexperience of 
many Constructing Quartermasters, 
there was little Hartman could do to 
improve control over planning in the 
field. 

While waiting for plans, construction 
contractors prepared to build. Skeleton 
staffs from their home offices got pre- 
liminaries under way. Personnel men 
interviewed applicants, surveyed workers' 
housing, and arranged transportation to 
and from the projects. Superintendents 
formed crews to clear and drain the land, 
stake out supply roads, and erect tem- 
porary office buildings, storage sheds, and 
timekeepers' shacks. Project managers 
checked the facilities of nearby railroads 
and the condition of neighboring high- 
ways. At some isolated projects, gangs 
started putting in spur tracks and access 
roads. As contractors sent out calls for 
workers and orders for materials, two 
questions were uppermost in their minds: 
would supplies of labor, materials, and 
equipment be adequate and would tar- 
ings and deliveries keep pace with re- 
quirements. 

Lumber and Other Materials 

"The essence of the preparedness 
program," according to the NDAC, was 
"the getting of an adequate supply of 
materials of the proper quality in the 
shortest space of time."* 9 In the early 
stages of mobilization, requirements for 



*• Memo, Constr Div Opns Br Housing Sec Unit B 
for Chief Housing Sec, 14 Feb 41. QM 333.1 (Cp 
Claiborne) 1940. 

W H Doc 950, 76th Cong, 3d sess, 13 Sep 40, 
National Defense Contracts, p, 1. 



construction materials were particularly 
critical. The quantities were huge and 
the need was immediate. Most impor- 
tant of all building materials was lum- 
ber. Cement, plumbing and electrical 
supplies, and fixed equipment for heating 
plants, kitchens, laundries, and bakeries 
also bulked large. A host of other ma- 
terials — roofing, pipe, sand, gravel, glass, 
nails, paint, and so forth — went into the 
building of a camp. Much depended on 
timely procurement. A shortage of any 
item might upset completion schedules. 
A failure in the lumber supply would be 
calamitous. 

Conditions in the lumber market 
threatened serious trouble. A shortage 
seemed inevitable unless mills increased 
production. In September 1940 Hart- 
man aired his view of the situation in an 
exchange with Representative Louis 
Ludlow: 

Mr. Ludlow. ... Do you have dif- 
ficulty in obtaining lumber, especially in the 
South? 

General Hartman. There is some difficulty. 
The normal production of lumber on a one- 
shift basis is about 51,000,000 feet a week. 
We will require something like 550,000,000 
or 600,000,000 feet in the next 60 days. We 
are having a meeting with the mill owners 
in an endeavor to have them speed up their 
production by going either on a two-shift or 
a three-shift basis. 31 

Although records for 1939 showed an 
output of more than 23 billion feet board 
measure (FBM) of softwood lumber, the 
highest since 1929, Hartman's concern 
was well founded. The industry had 
slumped during the first half of 1940. 
Now, in addition to the Construction 



M H Subcomm of the Comra on Appns, 76th 
Cong, 3d sess, Hearings on Third Supplemental National 
Defense Appropriation Bill for ig<fi, p. 59. 



214 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Division, a dozen federal agencies were 
calling for lumber. Concentration of 
camps in the South tended to exclude 
products of the other great softwood 
region, the Pacific Northwest, and to 
throw the burden chiefly on Southern 
mills. Scarcity, of course, meant high 
prices. Softwoods had averaged $20.57 
per thousand board feet during 1939. 
By September 1940 they were bringing 
as much as $40 per thousand, and prices 
promised to go even higher. 35 

It was in this unstable market that 
Hartman launched what was to be one 
of the biggest procurement operations 
of the war — centralized purchasing of 
lumber. He did so with the backing of 
Donald Nelson, who agreed that central 
control was necessary to steady prices 
and to give priority to jobs with early 
completion dates. The plan was this: 
Colonel Jacobson, as chief of Procure- 
ment and Expediting (P&E), would 
solicit offers on the total footage for a 
project, reserve the lumber with low 
bidders, and tell the contractor where 
to buy. Until the system was functioning 
smoothly, most contractors would con- 
tinue to procure their own lumber, 
but prices paid would be subject to 
Jacobson's approval. Denied funds for 
an earlier start, Hartman had to intro- 
duce centralized purchasing while con- 
struction was in progress. Proceeding 
with necessary caution, he chose Camp 
Edwards for the initial trial. 33 



M (i) Historical Statistics of the United States, ij&f- 
1945, p. 125. (2) Memo, Constr Div OQMG for 
Nelson, 25 Jan 41. 411.1 (Lumber) II. 

88 ( I ) Memo, NDAC, Hiram S. Brown, for Nelson, 
9 Jan 41. WPB-PD File, 411.33 Constr Projs Mil- 
Jun 40-41. (2) Ltr, CQM Cp Edwards to Sec C, FF 
Br, 9 Sep 40. QM 41 1.1 (Cp Edwards) 1940. (3) 
Tclg, TQMG to CQM Ft Bragg, 17 Sep 40. QM 
41 1.1 (Ft Bragg) 1940-41. 



The Edwards purchase taught some 
valuable lessons. On u September 
Jacobson opened bids on 34 million 
board feet for the Massachusetts can- 
tonment and found that the best offers 
averaged out to $41.40 per thousand. 
The next day he asked successful bidders 
to start shipping at once. Soon Edwards 
was swamped with lumber. Madigan, 
visiting the project at the end of the 
month, saw 250 freight cars backed up 
on sidings between Providence and Fal- 
mouth, collecting demurrage charges. 
The contractor, who had three shifts 
unloading fifty to sixty carloads a day, 
could not keep pace with incoming ship- 
ments. Huge piles of lumber, spotted 
throughout the project, were creating 
a fire hazard. The Constructing Quar- 
termaster reported another difficulty: 
part of the millwork was the wrong 
size. Before renewing the experiment, 
Hartman and Jacobson wanted to have 
more accurate bills of materials and 
delivery schedules. 84 

By the beginning of October they were 
ready to try again. Early that month 
Jacobson invited bids on lumber for four 
more cantonments: 21,491,420 board 
feet for Indiantown Gap; 30,100,700 
for Meade; 32,246,000 for Devens; and 
38,259,791 for Forrest. The response 
was overwhelming: more than a quarter 
million separate prices bid. To tabulate 
and analyze these bids was an appalling 
task. Borrowing thirty accountants that 



"(0 Table, Constr Div OQMG (n.d.), Lumber 
Awards, Totals, and Average Prices (Rev to 31 Jan 
41). Opns Br Files, Lumber. Cited hereinafter as 
Table of Lumber Awards to 31 Jan 41. (2) QM 41 1.1 
(Cp Edwards) 1940. (3) Memo, Madigan for 
Gregory, 30 Sep 40. Madigan Files, Cp Edwards. 
(4) Memo, Groves for Gregory, 1 1 Oct 40. Opns Br 
Files, Rpts of Insp. (5) Jacobson Interv, 7 Jun 55. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



215 



Koke was about to send to the field, 
Jacobson set them to work. Twenty 
typists helped them, and even then it 
took ten days to tally all the bids. By the 
time the successful bidders received word, 
stocks on which they had based their 
bids were depleted. As far as prices went, 
the results were encouraging: $40.40 per 
thousand board feet for Devens; $39.65 
for Indiantown Gap; $38.42 for Meade; 
and $36.97 for Forrest. But clearly the 
purchasing procedure would not serve. 
Hartman had either to devise a new 
method or to turn back procurement to 
the contractors. 38 

Many favored the latter course. Most 
contractors were opposed to having the 
Army buy lumber for them. All the big 
concerns had their own purchasing de- 
partments and regular sources of supply. 
Nearly every project manager felt he 
could do the job better than someone 
in Washington. Loving was among those 
who questioned the wisdom of continuing 
centralized purchasing. In his opinion, 
"the responsible contractors of the South 
and West had a better idea as to where 
lumber could be secured than anyone 
in the Construction Division during the 
latter months of 1940." General Gregory 
was another who took a dim view of 
Hartman's lumber venture. He was "not 
enthusiastic," Jacobson said wryly. Put- 
ting it bluntly, one of Nelson's associates 
stated that centralized buying of lumber 
"did not have proper support by the 
Quartermaster Corps." 34 

ae (i) Table of Lumber Awards to 31 Jan 41. (2) 
Shcrrill, Lumber in the War, ch. I, pp. 2-3. (3) 
Maj. Gen. Eugene Reybold, "They Deliver the 
Woods," The Timberman, June 1943, pp. 10, 12. 

*• (1 ) Ltr, Loving to EHD, 6 Aug 55. (2) Jacobson 
Interv, 7 Jun 55. {3) Memo, NDAC Industrial 
Materials Div, J. W. Watzak, Jr., for W. A. Harri- 
man, 11 Jan 41. 411.1 (Lumber) II. 



It was Nelson who decided what the 
future course would be. His interest was 
broader than the military program: if 
procurement for camps upset lumber 
prices, the cost of all defense construction 
would go up. In his opinion centralized 
purchasing offered the best hope for a 
stable market. After talking to Hartman 
and Loving, Nelson agreed to let con- 
tractors buy lumber for four more proj- 
ects. But there he drew the line. He 
asked that P&E make all other pur- 
chases. Quoting the prices Jacobson had 
paid so far, Nelson maintained that a 
downward trend already was apparent. 
As for difficulties with bidding pro- 
cedures, they could be surmounted. He 
suggested inviting future bids on one 
project at a time. 87 

Jacobson found a better solution to 
the bidding problem. A long-time supply 
officer whose specialty was clothing, he 
remembered auctions held after World 
War I to sell off surplus wool. Each buyer 
at these sales received a wooden paddle 
with a number on it. As each lot of wool 
went on the block, those who wished 
to bid held up their paddles. The auc- 
tioneer's assistants passed among them, 
collecting slips on which bidders had 
written their number and price. Clerks 
then tabulated the offers and award went 
to the highest bidder. Jacobson saw he 
could use the same scheme in buying 
lumber, only bidding would be down 
instead of up. With the help of Walter T. 
Deadrick, one of his assistants, and 
Walter Parlour of the Southern Pine 



"(1) Ltr, Nelson to Hartman, 23 Oct 40. (2) 
Memo, Nelson for Hartman, 18 Oct 40. Both in QM 
411. 1 (Lumber) 1940. (3) Telgs, Gregory to CQM 
Pine Cp, 19, 21 Oct 40. QM 411.1 (Pine Cp) 1940. 
(4) Ltr, Hartman to Nelson, 25 Oct 40. QM 411.1 
(Lumber) 1940. 



216 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Association, Jacobson planned a series 
of auctions or "lumber buys" at points 
throughout the country. Introduced 
during November 1940, the new pro- 
cedure was an immediate success. Pur- 
chasing costs dropped to almost nothing. 
Purchasing time was gready reduced. 
With adoption of the auction method, 
opposition to centralized procurement 
began melting away. w 

Jacobson had two more battles to 
fight, one against inaccurate require- 
ments, the other against delinquent 
suppliers. He would win the first but 
lose the second. In ordering lumber, he 
had to rely on quantity surveys prepared 
by the Engineering Branch. He bought 
what Lamphere told him, no more, no 
less. As reports came in from the field, 
it became clear that the quantities had 
been greatly underestimated. By mid- 
October Camp Edwards was short eight 
million board feet. Soon other projects 
were calling for large additional ship- 
ments. Instructing contractors to buy 
what they needed in the open market, 
Jacobson appealed to Lamphere, who 
put Major Boeckh on the problem. 
Boeckh discovered that in figuring re- 
quirements the Engineering Branch had 
erred 1 5 to 20 percent by failing to allow 
for form lumber, scaffolding, and waste. 
The mistake was quickly rectified. Mean- 
while, Jacobson failed to prevent sup- 
pliers from defaulting on their contracts. 
Most of the mills and lumber yards 
which had received awards from P&E 
were fulfilling their commitments, but 
a few were not. Jacobson took a tough 
line with the delinquents, holding them 
to the terms of their agreements. Strong 



»*(i) Jacobson Interv, 7 Jun 55. (3) SherrilL 
Lumber in the War, ch. I, pp. 3-6. 



protests against this policy prompted 
Gregory to relieve him from P&E on 
28 November. Defaults on lumber con- 
tracts were to be a problem for some 
time. n 

Maj. Milton E. Wilson, who replaced 
Jacobson in late November, took over 
a going concern. Since its establishment 
five months before, the P&E Branch had 
grown to an organization of sixty people. 
Adoption of the auction method had 
been a giant step forward. Centralized 
procurement seemed to be turning out 
well. Lumber prices were steadily de- 
clining. P&E paid an average of $39.06 
per thousand board feet during October, 
$37.18 during November, and $35.81 
during December. Increased production, 
as mills switched to two and three shifts, 
undoubtedly contributed to the down- 
ward trend. Nevertheless, its proponents 
gave the bulk of the credit to centralized 
procurement. 40 Under Major Wilson's 
direction, P&E would attain undisputed 
leadership among federal lumber agen- 
cies. The pioneer work performed by 
Colonel Jacobson contributed materially 
to this success. 

The record of the P&E Branch told 
an incomplete story of lumber in the 
early months of defense construction. 
During 1 940 thirty-eight projects figured 
in P&E's purchases. Contractors re- 



" (1) Jacobson Interv, 7 Jun 55; Boeckh Interv, 
31 Jun 59. (a) Ltr, Nat Lumber Mfgrs Assn to 
NDAG, 19 Oct 40, and Incls. QM 411.1 (Cp Ed- 
wards) 1940. (3) Tclg, Gregory to CQM Pine Cp 
and other FF projects, 9 Nov 40. QM 411.1 (Pine 
Cp) 1940. (4) QM 41 1.1 (Lumber) 1940. (5) QM 
41 1.1 (Indian town Gap) 1940-41. (6) QM 
41 1.1 (Cp Devcns) 1940-42. (7) Ltr, Jacobson to 
authors, 33 Jun 55. 

40 (1) Table of Lumber Awards to 31 Jan 41. (a) 
Memo, Watzak for Harriman, 1 1 Jan 41. (3) Memo, 
Constr Div OQMG for Nelson, 95 Jan 41. 411.1 
(Lumber) II. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



217 



mained in exclusive control of lumber 
procurement at the rest. P&E had 
bought approximately 587 million board 
feet by the end of the year. As of 31 
March 1941, contractors had purchased 
almost one billion board feet. Because 
builders were prohibited from buying 
large quantities after 6 January 1941, 
the bulk of the March total represented 
orders placed during 1940. 41 Although 
their methods differed, contractors and 
P&E faced common problems. Both 
were affected .by production difficulties 
within the lumber industry. 

Workers in the lumber mills of Wash- 
ington and Oregon struck on 1 October. 
Five days later the West Coast maritime 
unions walked out. By mid-October 
tugboat operators and more mill workers 
had joined the strikers. Returning from 
a trip to the Ninth Corps Area on the 
28th, Groves reported to Gregory, "If 
they [the strikes] are not settled im- 
mediately it will result in serious delay 
and greatly increased cost in our camp 
construction." He added, "The supply 
of lumber in California is becoming very 
much reduced." 42 The strikes contin- 
ued. By November West Coast proj- 
ects were feeling the pinch. The contrac- 
tors at Fort Lewis despaired of meeting 
their completion date unless deliveries 
resumed at once. An arrangement, spon- 
sored by Hillman's office, whereby work- 
ers at one of the larger mills went back 
to work under a temporary agreement, 
brought some relief to Lewis, but the 



u (1) Table of Lumber Awards to 31 Jan 41. (a) 
Table, Constr Div OQMG (n.d.), Lumber Purchases, 
Accrued Totals to 31 Mar 41, Inclusive. Opns Br 
Files, Lumber. (3) Constr Div OQMG Gen Fid Ltr 
40, 6 Jan 41. EHD Files. 

** Memo, Groves for Gregory, 28 Oct 40. Opns Br 
Files, Convention in Chicago. 



situation there continued critical. Mean- 
while, lumber prices at San Luis Obispo 
rose $6 to $8 per thousand board feet 
as a result of the shipping tieup. Cut off 
from sources of northwestern fir, con- 
tractors in California turned to native 
redwood and uncured lumber. An agree- 
ment reached on 4 December sent the 
maritime unions back to work, but a 
general setdement with the mill workers 
did not come until 16 December. 4 ' 
As stocks of seasoned lumber dwindled, 
buyers moved closer to the saw. Many 
faced a choice of green lumber or none at 
all. Hartman took what steps he could 
to prevent use of substandard material, 
calling for rigid inspections and tests of 
moisture content. But there was no way 
he could prevent stocks of cured lumber 
from being consumed faster than they 
could be replenished. The camp program 
was taking an entire year's cut of long- 
leaf pine from the southeast area. The 
kilns and cooling sheds did not exist 
which could dry all that lumber in a few 
months. Rumors that green lumber was 
going into the camps were later con- 
firmed. 44 In January 1941 the Army 
explained, "The demand on the lumber 
industry has been so heavy in recent 



4 * (1) Truman Comm Hearings, Part I, Supple- 
mental Data, pp. 389, 391. (2) Ltr, CQM Ft Lewis 
to TQMG, 7 Nov 40. 652 (Ft Lewis) I. (3) Memo, 
Cochran for Loving, 2 Nov 40. QM 333.1 (Cp San 
Luis Obispo) 1941. (4) Ltr, Peter Kiewit to CQM 
Ft Lewis, 7 Nov 40. 652 (Ft Lewis) II. (5) Rpt, IGD 
to TIG, 12 Nov 40. Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp. 
(6) IncL 13 Dec 40, with Ltr, CQM San Luis 
Obispo to OQMG, 16 Dec 40, 600.914 (Cp San 
Luis Obispo) I. 

u ( 1 ) Memo, Patterson for Hartman, 26 Aug 40. 
SW Files, Constr Work 251-650. (2) Ltr, Hartman 
to Sen Hattie W. Caraway, 7 Oct 40. QM 411.1 
(Lumber) 1940. (3) FF Ltr 14, 28 Oct 40. EHD Files. 
(4) QM 4u-i (Q> Forrest). (5) Ltr and Incls, 
Constr Div OQMG to C of Engrs, 2 Jan 41 . Opns Br 
Files, FtBelvoir. 



218 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



months, that proper drying has been 
impossible." 48 

Although lumber was the most serious 
bottleneck, it was not the only one. Hard- 
to-get items included hospital and kitchen 
equipment, sheet metal, furnaces, and 
stoves. Production problems lay at the 
bottom of most of these shortages. Manu- 
facturers were unable to meet the sudden 
demand for noncommercial sizes. Scar- 
cities of aluminum and stainless steel 
restricted output of several items. Even 
when industry could produce, mis- 
understandings as to who was buying 
what occasionally upset delivery sched- 
ules. Along with the Construction Di- 
vision and its contractors, depot Quar- 
termasters, post commanders, and the 
Surgeon General were purchasing for 
the program. This situation inevitably 
produced confusion and delay. To make 
matters worse, a number of contractors 
placed orders with jobbers who promised 
early delivery dates but failed to meet 
them. Answers to questionnaires cir- 
culated by the AGC indicated the extent 
to which materials shortages were af- 
fecting the program. Fifty-seven percent 
of the contractors included in a poll of 
15 November reported deliveries behind 
schedule. A poll taken ten weeks later 
showed 65 percent delayed for lack of 
one material or another. 4 * 

Construction Equipment 

Between fifty and sixty million dollars' 
worth of construction equipment was 

"Ltr, Constr Div OQMG to Nelson, 25 Jan 41. 
41 1.1 II. 

4 * ( 1 ) Memo, Wilson for Opns Br, 9 Apr 41 . Opns 
Br Files, Questions and Answers for Truman Comm. 
(a) FF Ltr 6, 34 Sep 40. EHD Files. (3) FF Ltr 30, 
10 Dec 40. EHD Files. (4) Memo, Chief Constr 
Div for Groves, 29 Jan 41. Opns Br Files, Projects 
Behind Schedule. 



required for the camp and cantonment 
projects. Filling this requirement was a 
difficult thing to do. Principal contrac- 
tors could furnish only a fraction of the 
needed equipment. Big general con- 
tracting firms seldom maintained ex- 
tensive plants. A few bought equipment 
for each new project and sold it when 
the job was over. Most relied on rented 
machinery. To purchase the necessary 
equipment was out of the question. 
Hartman had no funds for this purpose. 
Moreover, manufacturers could not 
promise early deliveries and dealers were 
reluctant to sell irreplaceable stocks. In 
these circumstances, Hartman had but 
one recourse — to rent from distributors, 
dealers, small contractors, and other 
third parties. 

Adopting, a method that had proved 
successful in World War I, he agreed to 
reimburse contractors for the cost ol 
leasing third-party equipment. The fixed- 
fee contract set forth the conditions that 
would apply. Equipment must "be neces- 
sary for the proper and economical 
prosecution of the work." It must be 
"in sound and workable condition." 
Agreements for third-party rentals must 
follow a form prescribed by the Secretary 
of War. They must include the same 
recapture clause as the principal con- 
tract. Rental rates and other terms must 
meet the approval of the contracting 
officer. 47 In his instructions to the field, 
Hartman made Constructing Quarter- 
masters responsible for approving valua- 
tions and rental rates. He promised a 
schedule of allowable rents and a stand- 
ard form of agreement at an early date. 
Meanwhile, he told contractors to get 



47 FF Form 1, approved by ASW, 12 Jul 40, art. 
II, par. ic. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



219 



started. As soon as they could determine 
their requirements, they were to make 
temporary arrangements with third-party 
owners and begin assembling equip- 
ment. 48 

When Captain Richardson reported 
to Loving on 10 September 1940, fleets 
of equipment were already moving to 
the job sites. Contractors were making 
their own terms with third-party renters. 
The Mechanical Equipment Section was 
a name on an organization chart, nothing 
more. Hurriedly assembling a small 
staff, Richardson buckled down to work. 
Within a week or so, a schedule for third- 
party rentals, based on the contractors' 
schedule but including an allowance 
for profit, was on its way to the field. 
Before the month was out, all the big 
machinery companies had been can- 
vassed and lists of equipment for rent 
had been compiled. During October, 
Richardson, with help from the Legal 
Branch, revised an agreement used in 
peacetime on purchase and hire projects 
for use in the current emergency. Two 
significant features of the new form were 
the required recapture clause and a 
provision making owners responsible for 
major repairs. Upon its approval by 
Assistant Secretary Patterson, Richardson 
rushed the agreement to Constructing 
Quartermasters with instructions to use 
it on all future third-party rentals and 
to bring outstanding leases quickly into 
line. 49 



1B OQ_MG Manual, Supplement to Guide for 
CQM's, Rev 1940, Covering FF Projects, 27 Aug 

40. 4-5. I4-I5- 

" ( 1 ) Testimony of Capt Richardson, 29 Jul 41 . 
In Truman Gomm Hearings, Part 6, pp. 1667-70, 
1678-79, 1676. (2) Memo, Richardson for 
Violante, 8 Oct 40. Q_M 022 (Gonstr) Oct 40-Dec 41 . 
(3) Truman Comm Hearings, Part 6, Exhibit 91, 
Equipment Rental Agreement, pp. 1886-89. 



As it turned out, third-party rents 
were determined not by the Quarter- 
master schedule but by the law of supply 
and demand. At the beginning of Octo- 
ber only eighteen million dollars* worth 
of used equipment was available through- 
out the country. New machinery was 
hard to come by. Rents were beginning 
to soar. On the i ith Richardson, in an 
effort to hold leasing costs within bounds, 
told contractors to ask for bids. Bidders 
would set a valuation on their equipment 
and quote a monthly rate, but with ma- 
chinery at a premium, bidding was sel- 
dom competitive. Lively competition 
did exist, but it was among contractors 
struggling to attract equipment to their 
projects rather than among owners anx- 
ious to rent. Third- party agreements 
became so profitable that contractors 
pressed for higher rates on their own 
equipment. One of the joint venturers 
at Fort Belvoir went so far as to rent some 
of his equipment to the contractor at 
Meade. Where competition failed, the 
recapture clause became the sole bul- 
wark against spiraling rates, for the larger 
the monthly rent the sooner would the 
equipment belong to the government. 80 

Owners were understandably hostile 
toward recapture. Small construction 
firms could not afford to lose their stock 
in trade. Dealers and distributors, un- 
sure of future deliveries, hesitated to 
risk capture. The fact that the Navy did 
not adopt a similar provision made the 



10 (1) Richardson's Testimony, 29 Jul 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 6, p. 1679. (2) 
Memo, Richardson for Sec Chiefs FF Br, 1 1 Oct 40. 
481 Part 1. (3) Ltr, FF Br to CQM Cp San Luis 
Obispo, 25 Oct 40. QM 481 (Cp San Luis Obispo) 
1940-41. (4) Constr Div OQMG FF Ltr 35, 17 Dec 
40. EHD Files. (5) Truman Comm Rpt 480, Part 2, 
pp. 26-27, 2 9- 



220 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Army's bargaining position all the more 
precarious. 61 Although Hartman as- 
sured owners that they would receive 
fair treatment, many refused to rent 
on his terms. Some offered to lease equip- 
ment only in blocks which included ob- 
solete and useless items. Others de- 
manded subcontracts. Those who bid 
on a recapture basis generally set valua- 
tions high enough so that recapture would 
bring them a tidy profit. 

Quartermaster officers, trying des- 
perately to speed construction, occa- 
sionally joined owners and contractors 
in opposing recapture. Insistence on a 
provision that inflated rents, discouraged 
bidders, and might, in the end, put many 
small contractors out of business seemed 
unwise to them. One Constructing Quar- 
termaster favored striking the recapture 
clause from the agreement. Another 
promised to release equipment before 
it reached the recapture stage. A third 
permitted owners to jack up valuations 
as much as 60 percent above retail list 
prices, thus insuring that recapture, if 
it occurred at all, would be highly profit- 
able. Major Cochran of the Fixed Fee 
Branch threw caution to the winds and 
openly scrapped the provision. Cochran, 
whose section oversaw seventeen proj- 
ects, including such important camps 
as Edwards, Meade, San Luis Obispo, 
Indiantown Gap, and Devens, boasted 
of his ability to cut red tape. 62 At a 
meeting with subordinates on 1 1 Novem- 



« Navy Department, Bureau of Yards and Docks, 
Building the Nav?s Bases in World War II (Washington, 
1947), I, 104. 

*» ( 1 ) Transcript of Verbal Rpt, CQM Gp Edwards 
to FF Br, 21 Oct 40. 600.914 (Cp Edwards) I. (a) 
Ltr, L. B. McLcod to Starrett Bros and Eken, 8 Jan 
41. 481 (Cp Blanding) I. (3) QM 481 (Cp San Luis 
Obispo) 1940-41. (4) Statement of Maj Cochran, 98 
May 41. Opns Br Files, Confs. 



ber, he announced: "We are having 
difficulty with the recapture clause in 
equipment rental. Throw it away." He 
went on to explain: 

Take the man who owns a $10,000 shovel 
or special equipment. He is not interested 
in selling that equipment. He cannot buy 
any more now. The shovel people are three 
months behind on deliveries. If you are in 
a hurry, take one bid. Use your judgment 
and get a fair price. Speed is the essential 
thing. This money is being spent for winter 
construction. It costs money to go to war, 
boys. Two or three weeks on a training 
schedule of men may be a serious proposi- 
tion. 6 * 

In discarding recapture, Cochran gained 
a temporary advantage for his projects 
but blunted Richardson's drive to stand- 
ardize rental agreements. 

Despite complications, renting got 
results. Fixed-fee contractors succeeded 
in leasing large amounts of equipment. 
To illustrate, Walsh at Edwards leased 
1,132 items; Starrett Brothers and Eken 
at Blanding, 2,500. True, renting created 
problems for which there were no easy 
solutions. True, too, its cost was high. 
Nevertheless, it offered the quickest 
method of assembling equipment and 
the best means of controlling distribu- 
tion during a period of shortage. 54 

Labor 

Completing the camps on schedule 
depended heavily on lie achievement 
of three major objectives in regard to 
labor. First, every project had to have 



u Min of Mtg, Cochran and CQM Reps, 1 1 Nov 
40. Quoted in 2d Ind, CQM Cp Grant to OQMG, 
14 Jan 41, on Ltr, CQM Cp Grant to OQMG, 19 
Dec 40. 481 (Cp Grant) I. 

" Ltr, Constr Div OQMG to Truman Comra, 1 1 
Jun 41. 481 Part 1. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



221 



enough workmen. Second, production 
had to be continuous. Last, and to some 
extent least, came considerations of cost. 
Hours of work, wage rates, and efficiency 
had to be watched carefully so that 
neither time nor money would be wasted. 
Attaining these objectives was primarily 
the contractor's responsibility and was 
in fact an important part of the service 
for which he received his fee. Neverthe- 
less, the Construction Division was ul- 
timately accountable for completion of 
the program and for its cost. When 
progress and costs were affected, and 
only then, the division took an active 
role in labor relations and management. 

The group within the Construction 
Division most active in labor matters 
was the Labor Relations Section of the 
Administrative Branch. Established in 
August 1940, the section had the duties 
of obtaining wage rates from the Depart- 
ment of Labor and making certain that 
contractors paid at least these rates, as 
required by the Bacon-Davis Act. In 
addition, it supervised labor, dealt with 
labor representatives, and co-operated 
with interested federal agencies. Head- 
ing the organization was Leslie E. 
Brigham, a former professor of hydraulics 
who was identified neither with the un- 
ions nor with industry. The "old profes- 
sor," as he styled himself, considered his 
mission threefold: "facilitating the great- 
est possible speed in construction; pro- 
viding the greatest possible economy both 
in money and manpower; [and] getting 
the job done with the least possible fric- 
tion and dispute." 66 

Between July 1940 and the end of 
the year, the number of men employed 
on military construction projects rose 



from 5,380 to 396,255. {Table 10) Al- 
though some were paid by WPA and 
some directly by the Army, the vast 
majority of these workers were con- 
tractors' employees. Project forces grew 
with impressive speed. Camp Edwards, 
which started out with 165 men shortly 
after Labor Day, attained its peak em- 
ployment of 18,800 early in November. 
By December there were some 9,000 men 
on the payroll at Camp Robinson, 13,800 
at Blanding, 14,900 at Claiborne, and 
19,000 at Forrest. Where did all these 
workers come from? A nationwide survey 
in the summer of 1940 turned up only 
366,000 unemployed workmen with any 
skill in the building trades. 64 

As far as the Construction Division 
was concerned, a contractor's recruiting 
methods were his own affair. He might 
advertise, post notices, get in touch with 
employment agencies, and choose among 
applicants who presented themselves at 
the gate; or he might call upon union 
business agents to send him men. Gen- 
eral contractors in the South and South- 
west, still largely open shop territory, 
preferred the first method; those in other 
sections of the country, the second. For 
big contractors in the North, the East, 
and the Pacific coastal area, relations 
with labor had come increasingly to 
mean relations with the building trades 
unions of the American Federation of 
Labor. Efforts of the CIO to organize 
construction workers had met with little 



H Rpt, Brigham to Bennett, 30 Sep 40. EHD Files. 



"(1) Table, prepared by the Bureau of Labor 
Statistics, Dept of Labor, Average Employment on 
Selected Mil Constr Projects, Monthly, By Geo- 
graphical Area. EHD Files, (a) Richard J. Purcell, 
Labor Policies of the National Defense Advisory 
Commission and the Office of Production Manage- 
ment, May 1940 to April 194a (WPB Spec Study 33, 
31 Oct 1946), pp. 67-68. Cited hereinafter as Purcell, 
Labor Policies. 



222 CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 

Table 10 — Number of Persons Employed on Projects Under 
Jurisdiction of Construction Division, OQMG 
July-December 1940 

Month Average 



July 5,380 

August 7,172 

September 19, 103 

October 78,855 

November 255,592 

December 396,255 



Source: Conatr PR 9, 26 Feb 41, p. 91. 

success. Affiliated with AFL were nine- 
teen autonomous craft organizations, 
each with its own officers, initiation fees, 
dues, working rules, and regulations. 
Holding them together was the Building 
Trades Department, AFL, headed since 
August 1 939 by John P. Coyne. For the 
year 1939 the building trades unions 
reported a combined average member- 
ship of 822,593." With hundreds of 
thousands of defense jobs open, the unions 
could not afford to be inactive. The 
preparedness program presented them 
with a challenge and an opportunity. 
The circumstances dictated an organizing 
drive which would bring pressure on 
both the contractors and the Construc- 
tion Division. 

Eager to assume responsibility for 
referring workers to defense projects, the 
unions professed to have not only the 
men required but also the machinery 
for referring these men when and where 
they were needed. "To set up within our 
building-trades department a great de- 



Report of Proceedings to the Thirty-Fourth Annual 
Convention of the Building and Construction Trades 
Department, American Federation of Labor, November 
1940, p. 167. Cited hereinafter as Bldg Trades Dept, 
Proceedings, Nov 1940. 



fense-employment exchange was not dif- 
ficult," President William Green of the 
AFL explained in 1941, "for our inter- 
national unions already serve their mem- 
bership as Nation-wide employment of- 
fices." 48 A link with the United States 
Employment Service (USES) strength- 
ened the unions' position as referral 
agencies. When the defense program 
began, nearly six million unemployed 
were enrolled with USES. The NDAC 
wanted this roll used "as far as possible" 
in filling defense jobs. 59 During the 
summer of 1940 the unions worked out 
agreements with USES: unemployed 
members would register at USES of- 
fices, which would try to "preserve the 
established union placement channels." 40 
Potential rivals thus became partners. 
But arrangements with USES did not 
automatically assure AFL that all con- 
struction workers would be channeled 



"Statement of William Green, 14 Jul 41. In H 
Select Coram Investigating Nat Def Migration, 77th 
Cong, 1 st sess, Hearings, Part 16, p. 6414. Cited 
hereinafter as Nat Def Migration Hearings. 

n ( 1 ) Purcell, Labor Policies, p. 68. (2) H Doc 950, 
76th Cong, 3d sess, 13 Sep 40, pp. a-3. 

"Nat Def Migration Hearings, Part 16, pp. 6415- 
16. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



223 



through its unions. Only when a con- 
tractor agreed to employ union members 
exclusively would USES clear all workers 
for a project through AFL locals. 61 

Hiring at defense projects came in- 
creasingly under union control. In a 
strong position to begin with, the unions 
fought to extend their influence. Strikes 
and threats to strike, refusals by union 
members to work with nonmembers — 
all the usual pressures were brought to 
bear. 62 Benefiting from policies of the 
Roosevelt administration and from the 
emergency situation, the AFL advanced 
toward its goal of unionizing all military 
construction jobs. A study of 78 repre- 
sentative fixed-fee projects, made in 
March 1941, revealed that only 6 were 
operating strictly on an open shop basis. 
Twenty-two required workers in some 
crafts to belong to unions. Thirteen 
operated as preferential shops, which 
meant that union members received first 
call on jobs and nonmembers had to join 
a union after they were hired. Thirty- 
seven projects, nearly half the total, 
operated as closed shops, which meant 
that a man had to be a union member 
before he was even considered for em- 



11 (1) Testimony of James Doarn, Missouri State 
Employment Serv, a6 Nov 41. In Nat Def Migration 
Hearings, Part 23, pp. 8896-99. (2) Rpt of William L. 
Hutcheson, President, Proceedings of the Twenty-Fourth 
General Convention of the United Brotherhood of Carpenters 
and Joiners of America, December 9-16, 1940, p. 42. 
Cited hereinafter as Carpenters and Joiners Proceed- 
ings, Dec 40. (3) Incl, 8 Feb 41, with Ltr, Pres Int 
Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to OQMG, 10 
Feb 41. 600.1 (Wolf Creek OP) (Labor). 

" (1) Table, prep by EHD, Work Stoppages on 
Mil Constr Jobs, Jun 40-Dec 40. EHD Files. (2) Ltr, 
Sen H. C. Lodge, Jr., to TQMG, 25 Oct 40. 600.1 
(Cp Edwards) (Labor) I. (3) Memo, Groves for 
Hartman, 7 Nov 40. 600.1 (Indiantown Gap) (Labor) 
I. (4) Ltr, CQM Cp Lee to TQMG, 10 Nov 40. 
600.1 (Cp Lee) (Labor) I. (5) Carpenters and 
Joiners Proceedings, Dec 40, p. 42. 



ployment. Of the 78 principal con- 
tractors on these projects, only 30 had 
regularly operated closed or preferential 
shops before the defense program began. 
That 50 were operating such shops in 
March 1941 was indicative of the unions' 
progress during the early months of the 
emergency. 63 

Military construction projects at- 
tracted hordes of applicants. As contract 
awards became public, as calls went out 
for workers through newspapers and 
radio, as "caravans" of sound trucks 
toured the countryside broadcasting of- 
fers of employment, thousands flocked 
to the job sites. Sperl, detailing the suc- 
cess of caravans in recruiting workmen 
in rural Mississippi and Kentucky, said 
in his clipped way: "Got thousands — 
barefoot and like-a-that — but thou- 
sands — old jeans, no shoes, needed hair- 
cuts — but got them in working." 64 Con- 
siderable interstate migration occurred. 
Fort Bragg in North Carolina drew labor 
from South Carolina and Georgia; Camp 
Jackson in South Carolina, from North 
Carolina and Georgia. Maryland, Ohio, 
and Louisiana reported a large influx of 
people from nearby states. There were 
many more applicants than jobs. At 
Camp Edwards, 9,000 men were turned 
away; at Shelby, 11,000; at Meade, 
29,000; and at Bragg, 36,000. All the 
other big projects had similar surpluses. 64 
Whether in a densely populated area 



43 Incls with Memo, Statistical Unit Labor Rel 
Sec Constr Div OQMG for Chief Labor Rel Sec, 28 
Apr 41. OCE LRBr Files. 

"Sperl Interv, 18 Jun 56. 

46 ( 1 ) Statement of Fred R. Rauch, Acting Commr, 
WPA, 6 Dec 1 940. In Nat Def Migration Hearings, 
Part 9, pp. 3626-27. (2) Ltrs, CQM's at various 
projects to Rep John H. Tolan, Chm H Select Comm 
to Investigate the Interstate Migration of Destitute 
Citizens, Mar 41. OCE LRBr Files. 



224 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



or in the backwoods, a defense project 
never lacked for applicants. As far as 
quantity was concerned, contractors had 
more than enough labor. 

A hail of grievances soon erupted, 
mainly because a majority of the job- 
seekers were not AFL members. Some 
belonged to the CIO. Some were Negro 
craftsmen barred from the building 
trades unions because of their race. A 
great many were "barnyard mechanics," 
"hatchet and saw carpenters," handy- 
men, people with litde or no skill, desti- 
tute migrants searching desperately for 
work, and local residents out for big 
construction wages. With the AFL ex- 
erting broad control over hiring, friction 
was bound to develop. The building 
trades unions came in for much bitter 
criticism. Home folks complained of 
being edged out by union hooligans from 
distant places. Jobless Negroes blamed 
the unions for their failure to get work. 
CIO members protested that they could 
not ply their trades unless they went over 
to the AFL. Newspapers throughout the 
country carried reports that the unions 
were levying exorbitant fees for the 
privilege of working. Many persons were 
convinced that "union racketeers" . had 
taken over the Army's construction pro- 
gram and were running it in anything 
but a patriotic manner. 

Racket and shakedown were terms fre- 
quently applied to the exaction of union 
fees and dues from workers at defense 
projects. Scattered figures give an idea 
of what a workman had to pay to join a 
union local. The initiation fee for car- 
penters was $35 at Pine Camp, $50 at 
Blanding, and $80 at Dix. The plumbers 
union charged $50 at McClellan and 
$200 at Lawson General Hospital. At 
Belvoir the electricians charged $300. 



In addition, the unions collected dues, 
generally under $5 per month. There 
were many seeming abuses. At project 
after project men paid their money, 
joined a union, and went to work, only 
to be fired a short time later as incompe- 
tents. Several locals increased their fees. 
A number refused to honor membership 
cards of other locals, demanding a sizable 
sum for permitting "outsiders" to work 
within their jurisdiction. Receipts of some 
locals reportedly ran into hundreds of 
thousands of dollars; where the money 
went was a mystery. Complaints poured 
into Washington. The press spotlighted 
alleged abuses. Public resentment ran 
high. Concerned, top union leaders 
joined officials of the War Department 
and NDAC in bringing pressure on 
locals. 46 But reform was slow in coming. 

The project most severely hurt by the 
unions' organizing drive was Blanding, 
a closed shop job in an open shop state. 
Starrett Brothers and Eken had long 
been union contractors. When they 
moved south in September 1 940 to build 
the camp, they took with them a fol- 
lowing of some 2,000 men — superin- 
tendents, foremen, and workmen — all 
trade unionists. Members of this group 
automatically assumed control over 
hiring and firing. Pressure on nonunion 
craftsmen to join up encountered stiff 
resistance. Blanding was torn by dis- 

**(i) Data on union fees and dues compiled in 
EHD. (3) 600.1 (Labor) (Initiation Fees). (3) 
Memo, Brighara for Bennett, 8 Nov 40. QM 600.1 
(Labor). (4) Interv with James P. Mitchell, 5 Nov 
49- (5) OCE Legal Div Files, Press Clippings, Aug- 
Dec 40. (6) Tel Gonv, Brigham and Coyne, 3 Dec 
40. OCE Legal Div Files, Bldg & Constr Trades 
Dept, 8/40-3/43. (7) Address by Joseph D. Kennan, 
13 Nov 40. Bldg Trades Dept, Proceedings, pp. 192- 
93. (8) Memo, OASW, John H. Only, for Huntington 
Thorn, 10 Jan 41. Ohly Files, Labor- Constr Policies 
& Problems 1. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



225 



sension, as organizers from New York 
told local workmen to pay up or get off 
the job and Floridians damned the 
Yankees and their unions. Morale suf- 
fered, and production fell. 47 By late 
October the job, reportedly, was "pro- 
gressing 25 percent slower than it should 
due to interference of union activities." 88 
Efforts to remedy the situation were 
largely unsuccessful. To Maj. Leander 
Larson, the CQM, the reason for this 
failure was obvious. He questioned 
whether any other closed shop con- 
tractor would have fared better at 
Blanding. 8 ' Dresser, reviewing the record 
of the Construction Advisory Committee, 
termed the selection of a New York con- 
cern for work in Florida as "one of our 
chief mistakes." 70 

Taking a neutral position on the ques- 
tion of union control, the Construction 
Division made no attempt to dictate 
policy to either the contractors or the 
unions. Hartman refused to "dictate or 
express any preference or negotiate in any 
way to see that the job was made either 
union or open shop." 71 He left the de- 
cision to the contractor. Moreover, he 
made no attempt to interfere in union 
affairs. "You will appreciate," Gregory 
wrote Senator Lodge, "that the rules 
under which the unions operate are en- 
tirely a matter within their own juris- 
diction." 71 Unions could not set up offices 



• 7 (i) Ltr, Starrett Bros and Ekcn to Truman 
Comm, 23 May 41. Opns Br Files, Loose Papers, (a) 
OCE LRBr Files, Cp Blanding to 2/1 1 /41. 

•Ltr, 1 st Lt. R. C. Haas to Lt. E. C. Parks, Jr., 
25 Oct 40. 600.1 (Cp Blanding) (Labor) I. 

** Incl with Ltr, Larson to Gregory, 4 Jan 41. QM 
652 (Gp Blanding) 1941. 

70 Dresser Interv, 2 Apr 57. 

71 Ltr, CQM Cp Lec to TQMG, 10 Nov 40. 600.1 
(Cp Lee) (Labor) I. 

n Ltr, Gregory to Lodge, 9 Nov 40. 600.1 (Cp 
Edwards) (Labor) I. 



within projects or collect dues during 
working hours. Union organizers were 
barred from job sites. But, Gregory em- 
phasized, "Activities of these people off 
the reservation are no concern of this 
office." 7 * One fortunate effect of this 
hands-off policy was that Brigham was 
spared involvement in controversies over 
the unions. Problems of wages and hours 
demanded his full attention. 

Strong monetary inducements were 
necessary to draw skilled workers to jobs 
which were otherwise unattractive. Camp 
projects offered only a few months' em- 
ployment. Most were far from centers of 
population. Furthermore, miserable 
living conditions often prevailed in the 
vicinity of the sites. Conditions in the 
little town of Tullahoma, near Camp 
Forrest, Tennessee, illustrated the sort 
of thing a workman might find. At 
Tullahoma, whose normal population 
was 5,100, an influx of 15,000 construc- 
tion workers created "a health hazard 
almost beyond description." 74 "Many 
employees live in crackerbox shelters 
built on small broken-down trucks and 
automobiles," an inspector reported. 
"Many house owners in the town rent 
bunk space in basements. In some cases, 
men spend the night in sheltered door- 
ways." 75 Another visitor observed streets 
littered with garbage and human ex- 
crement. The Constructing Quarter- 
master, fearing an outbreak of typhoid 
or smallpox, ordered mass vaccinations 
and had garbage removed and streets 



71 Telg, Gregory to CQM Ft Warren, 3 Dec 40. 
600.1 (Ft Warren) (Labor) I. 

74 Ltr, Carey to Harrison, 30 Nov 40. WPB-PD 
File, 411.33 Constr Projs — Mil— Jun 40-41. 

7 « Rpt, Maj Hunt, IGD, to TIG, 1 1 Dec 40. QM 
333- 1 (Q 3 Forrest) 1940-41. 



226 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



cleaned at government expense. 7 * To be 
sure, communities larger than Tullahoma 
provided better accommodations, but 
workers still had to expect high prices, 
overcrowding, and other inconveniences. 

The maximum wage rates that 
Hartman authorized fixed-fee contrac- 
tors to pay — the minimum Bacon-Davis 
rates set by the Department of Labor — 
had less appeal for craftsmen than for 
unskilled workers. Early reports from the 
field disclosed widespread difficulties in 
recruiting artisans. The CQM at Bragg 
complained that his project was not at- 
tracting enough skilled workmen. The 
CQM at McClellan despaired of getting 
adequate numbers of craftsmen at Labor 
Department rates. Sheet metal workers 
protested the wage at Fort Riley. Brick- 
layers spurned the pay at Camp Shelby 
as "too low." 77 At Camp Edwards, on 
the southern end of Cape Cod, the situ- 
ation was critical. On 28 September 
Madigan telephoned Hartman from 
Boston: "You have about 900 carpenters, 
930 to be exact, at Camp Edwards. 
You can use about 1,000 or 1,500 
more .... We have got to get 
something done about carpenter rates 
if you are going to get that camp fin- 
ished." 78 The CQM at Edwards, like 
others in his predicament, blamed the 
lack of carpenters on "inadequate and 



(1) Ltr, OCQM Cp Forrest to Brigham, 15 Nov 
40. OCE, LRBr Files, Cp Forrest. (2) Groves Com- 
ments, IV, 8. 

" (1 ) Telg, CQM Ft Bragg to TQMG, 17 Sep 40. 
600.1 (Ft Bragg) (Labor) V. (2) Memo, Brigham for 
FF Br, 30 Sep 40. 600.1 (Ft McClellan) (Labor) I. 
(3) Incls, a 7 Sep 40 with Memo, Brigham for Violante, 
2 Oct 40. 600.1 (Ft Riley) (Labor) I. (4) Ltr, Kirk- 
patrick to CQM Cp Shelby, 30 Sep 40. 600.1 (Cp 
Shelby) (Labor) I. 

"Tel Conv, Madigan and Hartman, 28 Sep 40. 
OCE LRBr Files, Cp Edwards, Gen Corresp. 



ridiculous" wage rates established by 
the Department of Labor. 79 

Much trouble resulted from the Labor 
Department's practice of confining its 
wage rate studies to the immediate vi- 
cinity of the projects. On many jobs in 
small towns or rural areas, the depart- 
ment's rates were too low to attract 
craftsmen from distant places. At 
Edwards, for example, the department 
"set up wage scales, which, while entirely 
pertinent to existing local conditions, 
where an occasional summer cottage 
was the limit of construction operations, 
offered no attraction whatsoever to out- 
side labor." Skilled workmen in Boston 
were naturally unwilling to go to Cape 
Cod for less money than they could earn 
at home. 80 Additional complications arose 
whenever the Labor Department es- 
tablished higher rates for a new project 
than those being paid on a going job 
nearby. Then, workers rapidly deserted 
the old project for the new. Pointing to 
these difficulties, Coyne, Hillman, and 
others with prolabor views argued that 
Hartman ought to abandon his attempt 
to "freeze the minimum wages into 
maximum wages." 81 

The Construction Division's solution 
to the problem was less drastic. Where 
Labor Department rates clearly lacked 
sufficient drawing power, it authorized 
contractors to pay higher rates. Anxious 
to avoid unnecessary increases, it waited 
until a contractor complained about 
shortages of workmen before considering 
new rates for his project. Then, it weighed 
his recommendations carefully. If he 



n Memo, Cochran for Loving, 2 Nov 40. 600.914 
(Cp Edwards) I. 
"Ibid. 

"Memo, Simpson for Patterson, 16 Oct 40. 
Madigan Files, 102 Labor. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



227 



could demonstrate his inability to recruit 
enough workmen at the current rate, he 
received an increase. He did not need 
to show that he had gone to extraor- 
dinary lengths to secure workers. But 
he did have to prove that other con- 
tractors in the same general locality were 
paying more. This system enabled the 
Construction Division to grant justi- 
fiable increases and at the same time to 
maintain its overall ceiling on wages. 
Nearly every fixed-fee job received- a 
boost in one or more crafts, but few re- 
ceived across-the-board increases. 82 

Overtime premiums, not basic wage 
rates, were Brigham's biggest headache. 
As already noted, principles adopted 
by NDAC required the payment of pre- 
miums in accordance with "local recog- 
nized practices" for more than eight 
hours a day or forty hours a week and 
for work performed on Saturdays, Sun- 
days, and holidays. 83 On 12 September 
1940, the day before the President 
promulgated this policy, Major Jones 
and his assistants in the Legal Branch 
completed a memorandum entitled Notes 
on Hours of Labor. This document, 
though technically correct, implied a 
policy contrary to NDAC's in two im- 
portant respects. It stated, first, "There 
are no statutory limitations (except over- 
time for over eight hours) as to work on 
Saturdays, Sundays, or holidays," and, 
second, "There are no statutory limita- 
tions as to the number of hours . . . 
employees may work per week or per 



"(1) Memo, Birdseye for Bennett, 9 Oct 40. OCE 
LRBr Files, Coostr Div. (2) Ltr, Hartman to CQM's, 
30 Nov 40. 600.1 (Radford OW) (Labor). (3) 
Statistics prepared by Labor Rel Sec Gonstr Div 
OQ_MG (n.d.), sub: Increases in Hourly Rates 
Approved for CPFF Projects, 1 Jul 40 to 31 Dec 41. 
OCE LRBr F iles. 

** See p. 161, above. 



month." 84 Although the Construction 
Division did not receive a copy of 
Patterson's memorandum of 27 Septem- 
ber directing adherence to NDAC policy, 
Brigham knew of a letter from Stimson 
to Hillman promising compliance. 85 He 
also knew that Coyne had written to all 
local building trades councils, calling 
attention to the policy. 

Convinced that the War Department 
should not be forced in an emergency to 
pay rates looked upon as prohibitory 
in ordinary times, Brigham refused to 
accept the "local practices" formula as 
final. On 7 October he pointed out to 
Bennett that Hartman had ordered proj- 
ects to work forty-eight and fifty-six 
hours a week apparently on the assump- 
tion that straight-time wages would be 
paid. That assumption, Brigham indi- 
cated, might yet prove correct. Suggest- 
ing that public opinion would not sup- 
port union demands for excessive over- 
time, he asked permission to negotiate 
with AFL leaders, to try to win them 
over to "a 40-hour week and 8-hour day 
for any one man, continuous operation 
through Saturdays, Sundays, and holi- 
days, at straight time, payment of time 
and one-half for overtime, as required 
by law, and sufficient shift work at a 
reasonable increase in rates, as may be 
required to complete the job on time." 86 
Brigham's language echoed the Notes 
on Hours of Labor prepared by Major 
Jones. 

If the Labor Department, NDAC, and 



84 Memo, prepared by Jones, 1 2 Sep 40, sub : Notes 
on Hours of Labor. OCE Legal Div Files, Labor — 
Gen. 

"Memo, Huntington Thorn, OASW, for Patter- 
son (n.d.), sub: Status of Labor Policy. Madigan 
Files, 102 Labor. 

"Memo, Brigham for Bennett, 7 Oct 40. OCE 
LRBr Files, Cp Edwards, Gen. 



228 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



AFL were prepared to accept such con- 
ditions, they gave no sign of it, for they 
denounced unequivocally Major Jones' 
Notes. On 15 October Coyne, Maxwell 
Brandwen of Hillman's office, and Daniel 
W. Tracy, former head of the electrical 
workers union and now Assistant Secre- 
tary of Labor, discussed the matter with 
Maj. Sidney P. Simpson, Patterson's 
special assistant for personnel. Brandwen 
began somewhat heatedly, "We want to 
find out ways and means so that what 
the Assistant Secretary of War says will 
be done and not be circumvented by 
lawyers." Coyne and Tracy cited in- 
stances of contractors working their 
employees fifty-six hours a week at 
straight time and said this had to stop. 
Major Simpson went along with the 
others, suggesting, "Chop off a few heads, 
that's what I say." 87 At Simpson's urging, 
Judge Patterson on 19 October directed 
General Gregory to comply strictly with 
NDAC policy. Three days later Patterson 
rewrote Jones' Notes and told Gregory 
to send the revised version to the field. 
Under the new instructions, workers 
would be compensated in accordance 
with "local recognized practice" if they 
worked more than forty hours a week 
or on weekends and holidays. 88 

Just before Patterson restated his 
position, 200 carpenters at Camp Meade 
struck for time and a half on Saturdays 
and double time on Sundays. On Thurs- 
day morning, 1 7 October, Maj. James A. 



"Notes of Conf, Coyne, Brandwen, et id., 15 Oct 
40. Ohly Files, Labor-Gonatr — "Notes on Hours of 
Labor" or "The QM Crisis." 

u (t) Memo, Simpson for Patterson, 16 Oct 40. 
Madigan Files, 10a Labor, (a) Memos, Patterson for 
Gregory, 19, 33 Oct 40. OCE LRBr Files, ASW. (3) 
Ltr, Hartman to CQM's, 34 Oct 40. 600.1 (Labor) 
(Eight-Hour Law) 1940. 



Noxon, the CQM, had telephoned to 
report the union's demands. His SCQM 
said there was no authority for paying 
premium rates and advised him to write 
to Brigham. That afternoon Noxon 
phoned again to say that the union had 
called a strike for the following day. This 
time he got orders "to make sure that the 
labor representatives fully understand 
that such action would place full re- 
sponsibility for delaying work upon 
them." 89 On Friday the carpenters 
walked out. It was the first strike of any 
size in the military construction program. 
By this time Brigham knew what was 
going on and telephoned H. W. 
Blumenberg, general representative of 
the Carpenters Brotherhood: "Tell those 
boys to get back to work and we will 
look into it . . . ." Blumenberg 
put him off with a promise to visit the 
site that afternoon. 90 The strike con- 
tinued until Monday, the 21st, when 
Coyne intervened to send the men back 
to work. On the 23d Blumenberg went 
to Brigham's office to try to reach a 
setdement. While the two men were 
talking, word came to Brigham that 
Hillman's office had just notified the 
press that the union's demands would 
be met. The strike had been setded, not 
by the Construction Division, but by 
the NDAC. 91 

Deploring the "surrender" to the un- 
ions, the Army-Navy Journal predicted 
strikes at jobs throughout the country. 



» Resume of Tel Convs, Noxon and H. G. Wray 
and Hadden, 1 7 Oct 40. OCE LRBr Files, Ft Meade, 
Gen. 

10 Tel Conv, Brigham and Blumenberg, 18 Oct 40. 
OCE LRBr Files, Ft Meade, Gen. 

"(1) Tel Conv, Brigham and Coyne, 31 Oct 40. 
(a) Notes of Conf, Brigham and Blumenberg, 33 
Oct 40. Both in OCE LRBr Files, Ft Meade, Gen. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



229 



On 26 October the Journal told its 
readers: 

It is apprehended that the cantonments 
will not be completed on schedule, in spite 
of the urgency with which the constructing 
Quartermasters have been pressing the work. 
If this be so, the fathers and mothers of 
the young men not provided with proper 
housing should place the blame where it 
belongs, upon the Labor Unions, which put 
extra compensation above responsibility to 
the lads called to protect them and their 
country. 82 

The article's emotionalism and antilabor 
tone alarmed Judge Patterson.* 3 On 9 
November, after rejecting the idea of a 
letter to the Journal, he released to the 
newspapers a statement of the War De- 
partment's labor policy, the same policy 
handed down by NDAC. Praising Ameri- 
can workers for their patriotism and 
co-operation, he assured them that 
existing "standards as to wages, hours of 
work and overtime . . . must be 
maintained if the defense program is to 
go effectively forward." He dismissed 
the strike at Meade as unimportant, as- 
cribing it to "a temporary misunder- 
standing of the policy of the War De- 
partment as to overtime pay" and as- 
serting that it had not affected the camp's 
completion schedule." 

Convinced that the local practices 
formula was no longer open to question, 
Brigham did what he could to limit over- 
time. Twice during November, on the 
4th and on the 30th, he warned CQM's 
that only one overtime payment would be 
automatic — time and a half for over 

n ArmyNavy Journal, LXXVII, No. 8 (October 
26, 1940), p. 313. 

•* Memo, Simpson for Patterson, 4 Nov 40. Ohly 
Files, Labor-Constr — Policies & Problems 1. 

M WD Press Release, 9 Nov 40, sub: WD Labor 
Policy on Cantonment Constr. Ohly Files, Labor- 
Constr — Policies & Problems 1. 



eight hours a day, as required by law. 
Strict regulations governed Saturday, 
Sunday, and holiday premiums. Al- 
though Constructing Quartermasters 
could authorize up to time and a half 
on weekends and holidays if the situa- 
tion was urgent and the rate was "es- 
tablished local custom," final approval 
of all such premiums rested upon a con- 
tract change order rather than upon a 
simple authorization. All double time 
had to have Hartman's sanction." But 
even under these rules, the bill for over- 
time would be huge. 

Construction officers faced a dilemma. 
To work weekends at premium rates 
would mean deficit spending. To sus- 
pend work on Saturdays and Sundays 
would delay mobilization. On 23 Oc- 
tober Hartman had made his position 
clear: for each weekend worked, pre- 
miums would total about $100,000 at 
Meade and $200,000 at Edwards; the 
expense would be heavy at nearly every 
project. Meeting deadlines would mean 
spending money.** Constructing Quar- 
termasters were, on the whole, more 
cautious than their chief. Many of them 
hesitated to authorize premium work. 
The CQM at Forrest closed down his 
project over the long Armistice Day 
weekend rather than pay $114,000 in 
premiums. He thus lost three days of 
good construction weather which he 
could not redeem at any price. Such 
shutdowns were fairly common.* 7 Not 



•* (1 ) Ltrs, Hartman to CQM's, 4, 30 Nov 40. OCE 
Legal Div Lib, FF Ltrs. (a) Note, Brigham to EHD, 
Jul 49- 

•* Ltr, Hartman to TAG, 93 Oct 40. G— 4/33220. 

"(1) Memo, Huntington Thorn, OASW, for 
Patterson (Nov 40). OCE Legal Div Files, USW. (2) 
Ltr, CQM Cp Forrest to TQMG, 11 Nov 40. 600.1 
(Cp Forrest) (Labor) I. 



230 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



until late November, when CQM's re- 
ceived new instructions— "work over- 
time whenever it becomes necessary to 
complete your project on time" — was 
a 7-day week the norm. 98 

As labor costs soared higher, the 
thinking in Patterson's office changed. 
First John H. Only, one of Simpson's 
assistants, and then Simpson himself 
swung around toward the Quarter- 
master view." "There is no place for 
penalty provisions in defense contracts," 
Simpson wrote to Coyne on n Novem- 
ber. 100 At the Building Trades Conven- 
tion at New Orleans three days later, 
Simpson tried to talk union leaders into 
giving up peacetime privileges. He re- 
turned from the meeting convinced that 
"no immediate agreement" was possi- 
ble. 101 When talks resumed in Washing- 
ton a short time later, spokesmen for the 
unions said they would accept a universal 
time and a half rate for over forty hours 
a week — an arrangement under which 
labor would have sacrificed little if any- 
thing; but they refused even to consider 
surrendering premiums, whether time 
and a half or double time, for Saturday, 
Sunday, and holiday work. Taking the 
unions' side, Hillman argued that labor 
had a right to "such excess gravy" 
because the jobs were temporary and 
away from home. 102 Summing up the 
situation, C. Huntington Thom of 



»»Ltr, FF Br to CQM Cp Forrest, 23 Nov 40. 
600.1 (Cp Forrest) (Labor) I. 

"(1) Memo, Ohly for Simpson, 23 Oct 40. (2) 
Memo, Simpson for Hillman, 12 Nov 40. Both in 
Ohly Files, Labor-Constr-Policies & Problems 2. 

100 Memo, Simpson for Coyne, 1 1 Nov 40. Ohly 
Files, Labor-Gonstr — Policies & Problems 2. 

101 Memo, Simpson for Coyne, 1 6 Nov 40. Ohly 
Files, Labor-Constr — Policies & Problems 2. 

im Draft Memo, Thom for Patterson (n.d.), sub: 
Work in Excess of 40 Hours a Week or on Saturdays, 
Sundays or Holidays. OCE LRBr Files, USW. 



Patterson's staff presented a gloomy 
picture: 

At present the government is being asked 
to make all the concessions and there is much 
less reason for us to do this in the case of the 
Building Trades than in many other indus- 
tries where wage scales for laborers and 
mechanics are appreciably lower. All of the 
people in the War Department with whom 
I have discussed matters have demonstrated 
their desire and efforts to be just and equita- 
ble in treating labor problems on construc- 
tion work. At the same time there is unanimity 
of feeling that at present the government has 
hold of the smaller end of the stick. 103 

While many of the labor troubles 
that beset camp construction were in- 
herent in the program's size and speed, 
some might have been averted had the 
Army and the unions been able to agree. 
But the Roosevelt administration's at- 
titude doomed efforts to arrange a fan- 
settlement. Addressing the Building 
Trades Convention, Coyne said of the 
NDAC: 

The work of this Commission and its 
accomplishments are exemplified by the 
conditions which apply on national defense 
projects and the recognition given to the 
building and construction trades organiza- 
tions on the many defense projects now under 
construction in different sections of the Coun- 
try. Also the recognition by the Government 
of the 40-hour work week and the payment 
of overtime rates for work performed on 
Saturday, Sundays, and holidays is in itself 
an accomplishment that cannot be mini- 
mized. This is the first time that the Govern- 
ment, under similar circumstances, has ever 
accorded such recognition to the building and 
construction trades unions. 104 

Asking the unions to give up any of the 



1M Draft Memo, Thom for Patterson (n.d.), sub: 
Status of NDAC Labor Policy. OCE LRBr Files, 
USW. 

144 Bldg Trades Dept, Proceedings, November 1940, 
P. 223. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



231 



ground they had gained was asking a 
great deal. Reaching an agreement with 
them would take time and patient bar- 
gaining. 

Management and Supervision 

To complete the camps on schedule 
with the labor, equipment, and materials 
available, contractors needed not only 
experience but adaptability as well. Or- 
dinarily money, not time, mattered most 
in construction. Jobs were planned in 
minute detail and carried out in a way 
calculated to hold down cost and promote 
profits. Contractors assumed full control 
of their projects and conducted opera- 
tions as they thought best. With the 
emergency, the Army made exceptional 
demands upon its contractors — excep- 
tional in that it asked them to produce 
at several times their normal rate, with- 
out the usual well-laid plans, and, to 
some extent, without their usual inde- 
pendence. Few camp contractors had 
faced such a challenge before. 

Chosen primarily for their managerial 
strength, fixed-fee contractors felt obliged 
to staff their projects well. At virtually 
every job, firm members or other top 
executives assumed direction of the work. 
These men, unlike their subordinates, 
whose salaries the government agreed 
to pay, took their earnings out of profits. 
How many such men participated and 
how much time they spent at the site 
varied from job to job. Thirteen execu- 
tives of the Consolidated Engineering 
Company helped direct the Camp Meade 
project, eight of them devoting between 
50 and 90 percent of their time to the 
work. Although Meade had the heaviest 
concentration of executive talent, 
Wolters, Knox, Riley, Eustis, McClellan, 



and Bowie were not far behind. A study 
of thirty-two representative projects re- 
vealed an average of four men on non- 
reimbursable salaries, the equivalent of 
two full-time executives, per project. 108 
Along with company officials and top 
managerial personnel went groups of 
trusted employees who formed the back- 
bone of project organizations. Nonethe- 
less, few firms, if any, regularly employed 
enough key men for jobs as large and 
difficult as the camps and cantonments. 

General Hartman put but two re- 
strictions on hiring key personnel. First, 
he placed a ceiling of $9,000 per year 
on reimbursable salaries. Second, he 
insisted that appointments be subject to 
CQM approval. He was interested in 
making sure that projects were well 
staffed rather than in controlling salaries. 
Kirkpatrick told CQM's to bear "in 
mind that to complete these projects in 
the time required, a high calibre type of 
personnel must be employed by the 
contractor and, in order to secure that 
type of personnel, the contractor must of 
necessity pay a substantial salary." He 
justified salaries in excess of previous 
earnings by pointing to the long hours 
required, and the short duration of the 
jobs. He emphasized that many of the 
men would have to maintain two resi- 
dences. 106 CQM approval became more 
or less routine; contractors generally set 
salaries and filled posts without inter- 
ference. Salaries averaged approximately 
20 percent above the employees' previous 



108 Data prepared by Constr Div OQMG (Apr 41 ), 
sub: List of Resident Officers of A-Es and Con- 
tractors Showing percentage of Time Spent on 
Project on Nonreimbursable Basis. Opns Br Files, 
Gen Addl Data. 

"« OQMG Constr Div, FF Ltr 5, 7 Oct 40. EHD 
Files. 



232 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Building Barracks, Gamp Leonard Wood, Missouri 



earnings, an increase the Army con- 
sidered "equitable, if not insufficient." 107 
In the race to complete the camps by 
Christmas, contractors faced a severe 
test. Speed called for radical departures 
from custom. Ordinarily construction 
was scheduled in logical sequence. First, 
land was cleared, drained, and graded. 
Next, roads and utilities were put in. 
Only when easy access to building sites 
had been provided did structural work 
begin. Contractors usually divided large 
housing projects into areas. Excavating 
crews dug foundations in one area and 
then moved on to another. They were 



followed at each area, in turn, first by 
masons and carpenters and then by 
electricians, plumbers, and painters. Es- 
timates put the time required to build 
a division camp by this method at one 
year. Clearly, faster methods had to be 
devised. Major Larson endorsed a popu- 
lar solution to the problem when he 
wrote, "On a ninety-day program, all 
phases of construction must be carried 
on simultaneously." 108 

Contractors wasted little time on pre- 
liminaries. Most abandoned their cus- 
tomary procedure and began everything 
at once. Carpenters, usually among the 



1,7 Testimony of Maj Garrison H. Davidson, ao 1,8 Ltr, Larson to Gregory, ar Dec 40. 600.94 (Cp 
May 41. In Truman Co mm Hearings, Part 4, p. 1014. Blanding). 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



233 



last to begin, started work almost im- 
mediately. Whatever else might remain 
undone, contractors intended to have 
housing completed when troops arrived. 
Dunn and Hodgson, given thirty-four 
days to prepare a division tent camp at 
McClellan, found it "necessary to waive 
and disregard a normal plan of good 
construction scheduling." 108 Starr ett 
Brothers and Eken, acting on advice 
from Major Larson, gave structures 
priority over grading and drainage at 
Blanding. At Riley, Long-Manhattan- 
Watson began barracks and roads at 
the same time. Many contractors started 
building operations throughout an entire 
project instead of in a single area. At 
several job sites conditions precluded an 
immediate start on barracks, hospitals, 
and other buildings, but nowhere was 
structural work long deferred. 110 

Knowing work would be slow until 
roads were in, contractors pushed grading 
and surfacing work, but unfavorable 
weather conditions hampered their 
efforts. Unusually heavy rains trans- 
formed unfinished roads into seas of 
fluid muck. The situation was particu- 
larly bad at sites with poor natural 
drainage, such as Blanding and Forrest, 
and at those with viscous clay soil, such 
as Meade. As trucks, graders, and bull- 
dozers sank into the ooze, contractors 
brought in draglines. They spread thou- 
sands of tons of gravel, crushed stone, 
slag, and tailings in attempts to provide 



l *» Ltr, CQM Cp McClellan to TQMG, 2 Feb 41. 
652 (Ft McClellan) II. 

u °(i) Opns Br Files, QM-CO, Cp Blanding. (2) 
Ltr, Long-Manhattan-Watson to H Coram on Mil 
Affs, 31 May 41. Opns Br Files. (3) Memo, TIG for 
CofS, 5 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. (4) Ltr, 
Constr Div OQMG to G-4, 6 Jun 41. QM 600.1 
(Defects). 



reasonably stable surfaces. The work 
progressed slowly. Without roads, con- 
tractors devised novel methods of de- 
livering materials to building sites. Some 
used tractors to drag supply-laden sleds 
through the mud. Some rigged skips of 
buckets or baskets on aerial ropeways. 
Some laid corduroy roads. Costly and 
inefficient though these expedients were, 
contractors had no choice but to try 
them. 

Most contractors attempted to hasten 
construction through liberal use of man- 
power. At eleven camps and canton- 
ments, average peak employment during 
the last three months of 1940 was 
1 1, 2 12. 111 A study begun in December 
1940 revealed overtime operations at all 
and extra shifts "at a considerable num- 
ber" of 50 fixed-fee and 136 lump sum 
projects. These practices were costly — 
at times inordinately so. In hiring masses 
of men, contractors took a large percent- 
age of incompetents and thus paved the 
way for high turnover and low produc- 
tion rates. Overtime meant premium 
wages; extra shifts, low efficiency. More- 
over, a shortage of experienced foremen 
made it hard to get an honest day's work 
from labor. Although large numbers of 
men working long hours undoubtedly 
helped speed construction, output per 
man per hour was far below usual peace- 
time standards. 112 

Leading contractors tried still other 
ways of saving time. The Walsh Con- 
struction Company, unable to recruit 
enough skilled labor, sped carpentry 
work at Edwards by a mass-production 



111 Table, prepared by Bureau of Labor Statistics, 
Dept of Labor, Average Employment on Selected 
Mil Constr Projs, Monthly, By Geographical Area. 
EHD Files. 

m Slaughter, Saville & Blackburn Rpt, pp. 10-13. 



234 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Prefabricating Yard and Sawmill, Camp Blanding, Florida 



system of job breakdown and specializa- 
tion. Each workman learned a simple 
task which he repeated from building 
to building. The method was fast and 
not unduly expensive. Attacking the 
same problem in a somewhat different 
fashion, Starrett Brothers and Eken 
stationed experienced carpenters next 
to inexperienced ones to show them what 
to do. 1 " The contractors at Blanding were 
also among the first to test another prac- 
tical timesaver, prefabrication. Erecting 
a sawmill at their lumber yard, they 
manufactured buildings in sections. "The 



118 ( i ) Memo, FF Br Sec D for Loving, 6 Nov 40. 
Q_M 333.1 (Cp Edwards) 1940. (a) Interv with Ernest 
J. Semmig, Vice Pres, Starrett Bros and Eken, a6 Oct 
56. 



operations were so well developed at 
the mill, 55 said Major Larson, "that a 
standard size messhall was manufactured 
in ten minutes, and a time test of the 
erection of the building was accomplished 
in the field on the foundation in twenty- 
five minutes." 114 At least five other con- 
tractors also set up mills. One of these 
firms, the W. E. Kier Construction 
Company, earned high praise for its 
methods. At Camp Callan, Kier not only 
established an efficient prefabricating 
system but, to a large extent, mechanized 
his organization. He set up his own cen- 
tral concrete plant and delivered mix 
to various parts of the project by truck, 



u * Incl with Ltr, Larson to Gregory, 4 Jan 41 . QM 
652 (Cp Blanding) 1941. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



235 



hired quantities of trenching and other 
modern equipment, and even succeeded 
in persuading the unions to permit spray 
painting. Delighted with the results ob- 
tained by these and other progressive 
concerns, Hartman encouraged rank- 
and-file contractors to do likewise. 115 

The limit to which a contractor could 
go in "trading dollars for days" was set 
by the Constructing Quartermaster. 
Charged on the one hand with expediting 
completion, and on the other with safe- 
guarding public funds, CQM's found 
themselves in a tight spot. Because they 
passed on every dollar spent by fixed-fee 
contractors, they influenced both the 
rate of construction and its cost. The 
power conferred on the CQM's was, in 
Madigan's opinion, a major defect of 
the fixed-fee method. Soon after coming 
to the War Department, he cautioned 
General Gregory: "The Army is going 
to have a great time protecting itself 
where a contractor is hired for his knowl- 
edge and experience to keep him from 
catering to all the decisions of the Quar- 
termaster's representative, regardless of 
their merit, on the grounds that he is 
paying the bill." He added, with pointed 
irony, that he had no objection to letting 
the CQM direct construction provided 
he was "equal in experience and men- 
tality to the heads of the contracting 



111 ( l ) Ltr, Long-Manhattan-Watson, Ft Riley, 
Kan., to H Comm on Mil Affs, 31 May 41. Opns Br 
Files, Loose Papers. (2) Memo, A. J. Hammond, 
Consulting Engr, for Chief Constr Div, 23 Jan 41. 
QM 333.1 (Cp Forrest) Jul-Aug 41. (3) Ltr, Sound 
Constr and Engrg Co. and Peter Kiewit Sons' Co. to 
CQM Ft Lewis, 7 Nov 40. 65a (Ft Lewis) II. (4) Ltr, 
IGD to TIG, 9 Sep 40. Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. (5) 
Compl Rpt, Camp Callan, pp. 3-6. (6) OQMG 
Constr Div, FF Ltrs 2 (n.d.), and 9, 15 Oct 40. EHD 
Files. 



firm." 116 These observations prompted 
Colonel Thomas to remark that he 
doubted if Madigan knew there was a 
Comptroller General. Viewing the prob- 
lem from the standpoint of the Quarter- 
master field, Thomas commented: 

One can imagine the situation of a Con- 
structing Quartermaster called in from civil 
life, where he was rated as a first class en- 
gineer and one who had had considerable 
responsibility, and placed in charge of one 
of these large camps for housing up to 40,000 
men, knowing nothing of military customs 
of the service, but he had heard in a vague 
way that the Comptroller of the Treasury 
was watching all expenditures and if he was 
not careful with Uncle Sam's money he 
might have to pay for things, not properly 
authorized, out of his own pocket. 117 

Seen from any angle, it was a fine line 
the CQM's had to tread. 

With millions upon millions going 
into fixed-fee projects, Hartman took 
precautions against irregularities and 
mistakes. The auditing system he adopted 
erected positive safeguards against dis- 
honesty and waste. Designed by Lincoln 
G. Kelly, vice president of the American 
Institute of Accountants, and Oscar I. 
Koke of the Accounting and Auditing 
Branch, the system provided for a cur- 
rent, detailed, and independent audit 
of contractors' accounts. At each fixed-fee 
project, a field auditor, selected by Koke, 
saw to it that the contractor recorded 
costs accurately and received reimburse- 
ment only for authorized expenditures. 
Knowing that contractors needed money 
to keep going, Kelly and Koke pre- 
scribed a continuous, "minute to minute" 
preaudit. Members of the auditor's 



116 Memo, Madigan for Gregory, 30 Sep 40. 
Madigan Files, Cp Edwards. 

117 Replies to Questionnaire, Thomas to EHD, 31 
May 56. 



236 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



staff examined all shipments of materials 
and checked them against invoices, kept 
the time worked by each employee and 
checked it against the contractor's pay- 
roll, and investigated each claim against 
the contractor before he made payment. 
Hence, when he presented his vouchers 
for reimbursement, the auditor could 
quickly verify them and submit them for 
approval by the CQM, who would, in 
turn, send them on to the nearest Army 
finance office for payment. In their ad- 
ministration of this audit-reimbursement 
machinery, CQM's tried both to curb 
expenditures and avoid delays — a two- 
fold objective not easily attained. 118 

To set up the audit machinery and get 
it to running smoothly was in itself a big 
undertaking. Nowhere was the shortage 
of trained men more acute than in ac- 
counting. Koke, wishing to appoint top 
professionals to field auditor's posts, 
discovered that such men were hard to 
recruit. At many projects, construction 
was well under way before auditors 
turned up. Meanwhile, unpaid bills ac- 
cumulated. When auditors finally ar- 
rived, they faced a backlog of old work 
and a steadily increasing volume of new. 
Shortages of timekeepers, bookkeepers, 
shipping clerks, and materials checkers 
further complicated the auditing task. 
Contractors, similarly handicapped by 
personnel shortages, were sometimes slow 
in submitting vouchers for reimburse- 
ment and frequently neglected to furnish 
sufficient evidence to support their claims. 
To make matters worse, projects were 
often hundreds of miles from the nearest 



"»(i) Constr Div OQMG, Manual for Field 
Auditors on CPFF Contracts, 6 Sep 40. EHD Files, 
(a) Ltr, Kelly to authors, 1 May 5g. (3) Replies to 
Questionnaire, Koke to EHD, 35 May 59. 



regional finance office. Because the Chief 
of Finance made his officers audit all 
vouchers themselves, Constructing Quar- 
termasters had to send supporting papers 
along with requests for payment. There 
were delays and more delays, as bottle- 
necks developed in field auditors' de- 
partments, tons of paper moved from the 
projects to the finance offices, and a 
second, seemingly superfluous, audit was 
performed."* 

How to streamline the audit and still 
maintain adequate safeguards was a 
controversial xmestion. The procedure 
recommended by Kelly and Koke and 
approved by the Comptroller General 
involved meticulous checks and double 
checks. Every timekeeper or materials 
checker employed by the contractors 
had a counterpart on the field auditors' 
staffs. This system, however sound in 
theory, proved impractical under emer- 
gency conditions. Duplication had to 
be curtailed. There were two ways to do 
it. First, the government could reduce 
the auditing detail, using spot checks 
instead of preauditing every transaction; 
or, second, it could persist in making a 
complete check but ask contractors to 
discontinue their timekeeping and in- 
spections and accept field auditors' re- 
cords. Used successfully in World War I, 
the second method had many staunch 
advocates. Koke nevertheless insisted 
the first method was the only acceptable 
one. He felt the purpose of the audit 
would be lost if the government helped 
keep contractors' records. By early Oc- 
tober he had instituted spot checks at 



u »(i) Memo, Constr Div OQMG for Red (Apr 
41), sub: Delays in Payments and Reimbursements. 
Opns Br Files, Delays, (a) Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. 
(3) Memo, Lt Col B. B. Somervell for Gregory, 
9 Dec 40. EHD Files. 



THE FIRST GAMPS 



237 



Standard Chapel (700 Series), Exterior View 



several projects, among them Blanding 
and Edwards. Maj. John A. Hunt of The 
Inspector General's Department, after a 
visit to Blanding on the 1 1 th, pronounced 
the experiment a success. So enthu- 
siastic was his report that Reybold in- 
structed Gregory to study the Blanding 
system with a view to adopting it at all 
projects. 120 Meantime, however, Major 
Groves had gone to Edwards and found 



(i) Memo, Koke for F. L. Yates, Office of the 
Comptroller On, 27 Jul 40. EHD Files. (2) Thomas 
Interv, 27 Dec 55. (3) Rpt, Hunt to TIG, 18 Oct 40. 
Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. (4) WD Ltr AG 600.12 
(10-18-40) M-D to TQMG, 30 Oct 4o. QM 333.1 
(Cp Blanding) 1940. 



the audit there "decidedly inade- 
quate." 1 " In response to Groves' criti- 
cism, and without informing Koke, 
Loving on 16 October ordered CQM's 
to use the second method. Because the 
projects were slow to comply, he repeated 
this order on 28 November." 2 

Whatever the method, auditing was 
an uphill job. Rarely could a Construct- 
ing Quartermaster keep reimbursements 



ul Memo, Groves for Gregory, 1 1 Oct 40. Opns 
Br Files, Rpts of Insp. 

Memo, Kirkpatrick for SCQM's, 16 Oct 
40. (a) Memo, Hartman for Gregory, 23 Oct 40. 
Both in Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp. (3) Ltr, FF Br 
Constr Div to CQM's, 28 Nov 40. 600.1 (Elwood 
OW) (Labor) I. 



238 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



current. Project after project reported 
serious delays. Large unpaid balances 
developed, some totaling in the millions. 
Few construction firms had cash reserves 
big enough to cover such contingencies. 
Contractors had to borrow, some to the 
limits of their credit. Many failed to pay 
their bills when due and thus lost dis- 
counts for prompt payment; worse, they 
lost the confidence of suppliers. In at- 
tempts to speed collections, creditors 
wrote dunning letters, threatened to 
withhold further shipments, and even 
appealed to Congress — all to little avail. 
Nor did efforts to streamline auditing 
procedures produce a marked improve- 
ment in the rate of reimbursement. 
However it was handled, the auditing 
on fixed-fee projects — the innumerable 
checks and verifications, the great amount 
of paper work, the tedious detail — took 
time. 12 8 

Complicating relationships between 
contractors and CQM's was the shortage 
of appropriated funds. That the esti- 
mates General Moore had imposed on 
Hartman were far too low was increas- 
ingly apparent. On a visit to Camp Ed- 
wards in late September, Madigan 
learned that Walsh had already spent 
more money than the Army had allotted 
for the entire job. Soon other projects 
were calling for additional funds. Small 
at first, the sums requested rapidly grew 
larger, jumping from five to six figures 
and then from six to seven. Early in No- 
vember Hartman asked for revised es- 
timates from all camp and cantonment 
projects. Replies indicated that costs 



us (i ) Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. (2) Memo, TIG for 
CofS (Dec 4.0). QM 333.1 (Cp Claiborne) 1940. (3) 
Rpt, IGD to TIG, 18 Dec 40. QM 333.1 (Cp Bland- 
ing) 1940. 



would far exceed appropriations. In 
addition to funds originally allotted, 
Forrest would need nearly $6 million; 
Blanding, some $7.5 million; Edwards, 
about $13 million. And so the answers 
went. By the first week in December the 
known deficit had climbed to $140 mil- 
lion. Many projects had yet to be heard 
from. Moreover, the new estimates did 
not cover recently authorized extras, 
such as chapels, field houses, and psy- 
chiatric wards. 1 " For the CQM's, as 
for Hartman, the situation posed a 
serious dilemma, whether to cut ex- 
penditures by slowing construction or 
to push the work at top speed and go 
deeper and deeper into the red. 

Without sufficient funds, many in- 
experienced CQM's hesitated to sanc- 
tion expensive, high-speed methods. 
Hartman's instructions to field officers 
put increasing emphasis on speed. But, 
legally, he could not authorize deficit 
spending; only the President could do 
that. On a tour of southern camps during 
October, General Reybold found CQM's 
"in doubt as to their authority and hesi- 
tant to proceed." Diagnosing the trouble, 
he suggested to Gregory, "This may have 
been caused by meager information 
furnished to them by your office, to- 
gether with only a partial allotment of 
funds. Constructing Quartermasters ap- 
parently are uncertain that they could 
go ahead with the entire project in the 
absence of full amount of funds re- 



IM (i) Madigan Interv, 18 Jun 56. (a) 65a liles, 
various projects. (3) Ltr, Birdseye to CQM's (n.d.), 
sub: Status of Funds Rpt. QM 600.1 (Rpts) 1941. (4) 
Memo, TIG for CofS, 10 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, 
IG Rpts. (5) Ltr, Solomon & Keis to Maj Larson, 4 
Nov 40. 600.94 (Cp Blanding). (6) Memo, Hartman 
for Patterson, 7 Dec 40. 65a (Cp Edwards) I. (7) 
Ltr, Hartman to TAG, 7 Dec 40. QM 600.1 (Funds) 
IX. (8) Memo, G-4 for Fil«, 4 Dec 40. 0-4/33343, 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



239 




Standard Chapel (700 Series), Interior View 



quired." 126 CQM's were indeed uncer- 
tain. Their orders, like Hartman's, were 
to meet all deadlines and stay within 
allotted funds. Attempts to carry out 
these conflicting instructions frequently 
took the form of alternating pressures and 
restrictions on contractors. 

That delays developed and mistakes 
occurred was understandable. Haste, 
inexperience, and inadequate funds were 
explanation enough. It was up to the 
Washington office to remove obstacles 



m Memo, Reybold for Gregory, 21 Oct 40. QM 
600.1 (Misc.) 1940. 



and to supply the extra push needed to 
reach construction goals. 

Neartng the Goal 

By November 1940 the program had 
reached its critical stage. Winter was 
closing in; time was running out; and 
pressure was increasing with each pass- 
ing day. Military leaders were more and 
more uneasy about progress at the camp 
sites. The Quartermaster organization, 
hastily put together and woefully under- 
manned, was under an almost intolerable 
strain. Climaxing twenty years of un- 



240 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



realistic mobilization planning and of 
compromise on the fundamental ques- 
tion of where construction properly be- 
longed, the situation produced grave 
concern within the War Department. 

Early reports from the field had been 
encouraging. On their first rounds of 
the camps, inspectors found no cause for 
alarm. In fact, their accounts of progress 
were almost uniformly optimistic. Words 
like satisfactory, excellent, and splendid 
peppered their reports. 128 As if to con- 
firm the inspectors' judgment, the first- 
priority Guard divisions, four in all, 
moved on schedule, late in September, 
into tent camps at Dix, Jackson, Sill, 
and Lewis. On 7 October William F. 
Carey of Harrison's staff told his chief, 
"On the whole, I was quite favorably 
impressed with the organization and 
general progress of these canton- 
ments." 127 A short time later Harrison 
himself gave the program a clean bill of 
health. "Members of our staff are cur- 
rently visiting the larger projects," he 
informed Patterson on 16 October. 
"From their visits it is clear good prog- 
ress is being made." 128 

During October trouble spots began 
to appear. Around the first of the month, 
Carey noted potential delays at two 
southern camps, McClellan and 
Blanding. During the next fortnight, 
project after project was reported be- 
hind. Contrary to predictions, three of 
the second-priority Guard camps— 
McClellan, Livingston, and Shelby — 
were ready to accommodate divisions 



m ( 1 ) Opns Br Files, IG Rpts and Rpts of Insp. 
(a) QM 600.914 various projects. 

117 Memo, Carey for Harrison, 7 Oct 40. Madigan 
Files, Cantons — Tp Housing — Current Projects. 

Memo, Harrison for Patterson, 16 Oct 40. 
Madigan Files, 101.1 Canton Design and Constr. 



on schedule. But the three remaining 
ones — Blanding, Robinson, and Bowie — 
were unable to meet October deadlines. 
Claiborne, Forrest, Meade, San Luis 
Obispo, Indiantown Gap — one by one 
the camps slated for occupancy in No- 
vember and December moved into the 
doubtful column. Some observers ques- 
tioned whether the units living in tents 
at Dix, Lewis, and Sill would be in winter 
quarters when cold weather set in. 129 On 
29 October Loving informed Hartman 
that, while building construction was 
generally "up to or ahead of schedule," 
progress on utilities was "not so prom- 
ising." Problems with water systems, 
heating, sewers, and roads would upset 
timetables for bringing troops into 
camp. 130 

By this time, an effort was under way 
to set new target dates, more realistic 
than the old. That existing schedules 
for housing the Army were impossible 
to meet was now beyond question. Gen- 
eral Marshall's assumption that camps 
at new locations could be built in ninety 
days was manifestly false. Hartman' s 
minimum of four months appeared to be 
more like it. Still the original deadlines 
held. Probing into the situation, Madigan 
found the demand for such great speed 
not only unreasonable but unnecessary. 
Shrewd politician that he was, he scoffed 
at plans for calling up National Guard 
units on the eve of the Christmas holiday. 
He considered it "ridiculous" and told 
Patterson and Stimson so. 131 On 17 



Memo, Carey for Harrison, 7 Oct 40. (2) 
Opns Br Files, IG Rpts. (3) D/S, Reybold to Gregory, 
21 Oct 40. G-4/31 735-1. (4) OCS, Notes of Confs, 
26 Sep 40 — . 

m Memo, Loving for Hartman, 29 Oct 40. QM 
600,914 1931 — . 

lu Madigan Interv, 1 8 Jun 56. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



241 



October Patterson asked Reybold to 
"check on the relationship between the 
present designated completion dates and 
the time of expected arrival of troops 
in order to ascertain whether . . 
we are demanding completion at more 
than a reasonable length of time ahead 
of the arrival of the various increments 
of troops." 132 The answer was yes. The 
Guard was pressing for postponements 
and was likely to get them. Shortages 
of uniforms and equipment would slow 
the intake of draftees considerably. Be- 
cause Guardsmen were to help train 
selectees and both were being called for 
one year's service, the rate of Guard in- 
ductions would also have to be reduced. 
More time was needed not only for con- 
struction but for orderly expansion of 
the Army as well. By early November 
the General Staff had revised the mo- 
bilization schedule. Of the eleven Guard 
divisions still awaiting induction, three 
would come in about i December, the 
rest in January and February. Only 
token calls of draftees would be made in 
1940. The Army's change in plans 
became public late in November. 133 

Meanwhile, salvos of criticism as- 
saulted the Construction Division. De- 
lays, high costs, poor living conditions 
at the camps, production bottlenecks, 
equipment shortages, spiraling wages, 
and muddy sites — all these were laid to 
the Quartermaster Corps. Numerous 
complaints appeared in newspapers. Po- 



^Memo, OASW for Reybold, 17 Oct 40. 
Madigan Files, ior.i Canton Design and Constr. 

183 (1) OCS, Notes of Confs, a 6 Sep 1940—. (a) 
OCS, Daily Summary of Papers Cleared Through 
OSGS. (3) Table, prepared in EHD, National Guard, 
Induction, Completion and Occupancy Schedules, 
Jul 40-Mar 41. (4) Time, November 25, 1940, pp. 
18-ig. 



litical interest in construction sharpened. 
The Army had to defend itself against im- 
putations of incompetence, ineptitude, 
and stupidity. As public confidence de- 
clined, official dissatisfaction deepened. 
More and more inspectors roved the 
field, and their reports were increasingly 
unfavorable. Much of the criticism was 
misdirected. And much was picayune. 
Nevertheless, scrutiny did reveal flaws 
in the construction setup. One was the 
practice of scheduling individual proj- 
ects for completion all at once rather 
than piecemeal. Another was the ab- 
sence of a modern cost accounting sys- 
tem. A third, vitally important, was in 
the Fixed Fee Branch. Responsible at 
the same time for negotiating contracts 
and supervising construction, Loving 
was finding it humanly impossible to do 
everything demanded of him. 134 

After Armistice Day, Gregory and 
Hartman acted to strengthen the Fixed 
Fee Branch. On 12 November they in- 
formed Major Groves that, as soon as 
an order promoting him to colonel went 
through, he would replace Loving is 
branch chief. Groves' assignment to the 
Construction Division had been talked 
of for some time, but Hartman had held 
back, fearful of lowering morale. While 
Groves took off on a quick trip to 
Blanding, Hartman briefed his senior 
officers: Groves would take over the 
Fixed Fee Branch within a day or two; 
everyone would give him full support; 
Loving would continue as chief negotia- 
tor. 135 Returning to Washington on the 



134 (1 ) Ltr, John J. McCloy to authors, 13 Aug 57. 
(2) Memo, Madigan for Burns, 13 Nov 40. Madigan 
Files, 100.3 FF Br - 

i« Groves Interv, 19 Jun 56. 



242 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



14th, Groves assumed his new rank and 
duties. Recalling the situation that con- 
fronted him, he said : 

During the first week that I was on duty- 
there, I could not walk out of my office down 
the corridor to Hartman's office without 
being literally assailed by the officers or 
civilian engineers with liaison responsibility 
for the various camps. It is no exaggeration 
to state that during this period decisions in- 
volving up to $5,000,000 were made at the 
rate of one about every 100 feet of corridor 
walked. Usually four or five men would keep 
trailing me to take the place of the man who 
had first gotten hold of me. The reason for 
this, I believe, was that they had been com- 
pletely overwhelmed with the decisions that 
they had to make and that they had not been 
able to obtain any decisions or advice or even 
to see their single superior, Mr. Loving, on 
their direct problems. 136 

The new chief had his work cut out for 
him. 

With Hartman's advice and approval, 
Groves made a number of changes. In 
rapid succession, he took the following 
steps: installed a telephone for each of 
the SCQM's and told them the sky was 
the limit on calls; demanded weekly 
progress reports from the CQM's; set a 
time limit of one week for processing 
reimbursement vouchers; sent an ex- 
pediter to every project reporting a 
shortage of lumber; and held four regional 
conferences of architect-engineers, con- 
tractors, and CQM's. Above all, he em- 
phasized the importance of meeting con- 
struction deadlines. He told contractors 
to hire special equipment, pay premium 
prices for quick deliveries, and take 
whatever shortcuts they deemed neces- 



ul Groves Comments, X, 12a. 



sar y 137 Mindful "that the world situa- 
tion did not permit any delay in getting 
our troops into training," Groves bent 
every effort toward early completion 
of the camps. 138 

Perhaps the most important of his early 
innovations was a more practical method 
of scheduling construction. Acting on in- 
structions from G— 4, Hartman had given 
each contractor the final completion date 
for his project at the time of negotiations. 
Because the Army did not intend to send 
troops into camp until construction forces 
had moved out, contractors were free to 
schedule their operations as they saw fit. 
On 23 November Groves announced a 
new policy. Henceforth, contractors 
would co-ordinate their plans with the 
scheduled dates of troop arrivals. Barracks 
and mess halls would have top priority, 
and so would hospital wings for first 
arrivals. Soldiers would move into fin- 
ished portions of the camps while builders 
completed the remainder. 139 By "chang- 
ing policy in the middle of construction," 
Groves hoped to keep pace with induc- 
tion schedules. 140 

Unlike Loving, who, as chief negotia- 



137 (1) Telg, FF Br to CQM's, 14 Nov 40. EHD 
Files. (2) Ltr, Constr Div to CQM's, 22 Nov 40. 
QM 600. 1 (CPFF Policy) I. (3) Ltr, FF Br to CQM's, 
23 Nov 40. T07 (Progress Schedules). (4) Notes for 
Discussion, Mtgs of Contractors, A-E's, and CQM's, 
25 Nov 40, at Washington, D.C., 27 Nov 40, at 
Atlanta, Ga., 2 Dec 40, at St Louis, Mo., and 5 Dec 
40, at Los Angeles, Cal., prepared by FF Br. EHD 
Files. (5) Ltr, FF Br to CQM Cp Forrest, 23 Nov 40. 
600.1 (Cp Forrest) (Labor) I. (6) Notes of Conf held 
at Washington, D.C., 25 Nov 40. WPB-PD File, 
411.33 Constr Proj — Mil — Jun 40-41. (7) Constr 
Div OQMG, FF Ltr 27, 3 Dec 40. EHD Files. 

138 Groves Comments, V, 4. 

138 Memo, FF Br to all CQM's, 23 Nov 40. 652 
(Indiantown Gap). 

110 Testimony of Col Groves, 30 Apr 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 2, p. 571. 



THE FIRST CAMPS 



243 



tor, could seldom leave Washington, 
Groves spent one-third of his time on 
the road. During his first month in the 
Fixed Fee Branch, he inspected a dozen 
projects in the East, South, and West. 
These visits sometimes led to sweeping 
changes. At San Luis Obispo, he re- 
lieved the CQM. At Roberts, he ordered 
preparation of a new layout. At Forrest, 
he fired six thousand workers, eliminated 
27 percent of the buildings, and ex- 
tended the completion date. 141 His ener- 
getic leadership produced results. Carey, 
visiting Camp Forrest a week after 
Groves had been there, found conditions 
much improved. "The reduced forces 
are now much better spread out, and the 
organization is going about its work with 
a pep and confidence woefully lacking 
in the past," he told Harrison. "The 
net result will be that this work, in my 
judgment, will meet the revised dates 
set up by Colonel Groves, and at a very 
substantial saving in the total cost." 142 
By the second week of December, 
construction officers felt the worst was 
over. More than half a million men were 



111 (1) List, Constr Div {rg Dec 40), sub: Insp 
Trips Made by Col Groves From Jul 22 Through Dec 
19. Opns Br Files, Gen. (2) Tel Conv, Groves and 
CQM San Luis Obispo, 6 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, 
San Luis Obispo. (3) Notes of Conf at San Miguel, 
Calif., 3 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Cp Roberts. 

142 Memo, Carey for Harrison, 22 Dec 40. WPB- 
PD File, 411.33 Constr Proj — Mil — Jun 40-41. 



under arms, and revised mobilization 
schedules were being met. General 
Hartman estimated that the housing 
program originally assigned to him, the 
barracks, kitchens, storehouses, and es- 
sential hospitals for two million men — 
not the innumerable extras added later — 
was approximately 95 percent complete. 
Finishing the camps and cantonments 
was, in his opinion, only a matter of 
weeks. ua Colonel Groves was also op- 
timistic. On 10 December he told 
Madigan, "I think it is going much 
better. I have gotten so I can sleep at 
night." 144 Years later, Groves reflected: 
"Actually, the great crisis where the 
Army was really in danger of being over- 
whelmed, beside which all other crises 
were insignificant, was the situation at 
the time I joined General Hartman in 
November of io,40." 14S By mid-Decem- 
ber, he maintained, the crisis was past. 144 
How did the heads of the War Depart- 
ment, Secretary Stimson and General 
Marshall, view the performance of the 
Quartermaster Corps? The answer be- 
came clear as the long struggle over the 
construction function reached its de- 
nouement. 



143 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 17. 

144 Tel Conv, Groves and Madigan, 1 o Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Ord. 

l4t Groves Comments, X, 12a. 
14 ' Groves Interv, 19 Jun 56. 



CHAPTER VII 



The Reorganization of Late 1940 



While defense preparations went for- 
ward, a concatenation of circumstances 
led to changes in the War Department's 
construction organization. As emphasis 
shifted from civil works to military proj- 
ects, the Corps of Engineers sought new 
assignments. As men identified with the 
old Construction Division of the Army 
reappeared on the scene, agitation for a 
separate corps revived. Under emergency 
pressures, flaws in the existing setup be- 
came increasingly apparent. An issue 
evaded for twenty years demanded so- 
lution. Long-smoldering controversies re- 
kindled and old rivalries intensified. The 
ensuing struggle brought reorganization, 
decentralization, and new leadership for 
the construction effort. 

The Engineers'* Predicament 

From 1 91 9 to 1939 the Engineers ex- 
pended nearly $2.5 billion dollars on 
rivers and harbors, flood control, and 
fortifications. Their civil activities, in- 
cluding such large projects as the Bonne- 
ville and Fort Peck Dams, extended into 
every state and territory. The red cren- 
elated castle, emblem of the Corps, was 
displayed at hundreds of sites where work 
went forward on levees, dikes, break- 
waters, jetties, locks, dams, reservoirs, 
channel improvements, and seacoast de- 
fenses. To carry out its construction mis- 
sion, the Corps maintained the Engineer 



Department, a permanent field organi- 
zation consisting of 1 1 Divisions and 46 
Districts in 1939. During the year pre- 
ceding the outbreak of war in Europe, 
225 officers and 49,000 civilian employees 
conducted the department's work. 1 

With the upsurge in military construc- 
tion, civil works began to decline. In 
fiscal year 1940, $180,141,467 was avail- 
able for rivers and harbors and flood 
control projects as against $289,244,842 
in the preceding fiscal year. 2 In the spring 
of 1940, as Congress considered budgets 
for the coming year, President Roosevelt 
called for drastic cuts in public works 
and opposed new construction not ur- 
gently needed for defense. When Con- 
gress passed an authorization bill for 
rivers and harbors, the President vetoed 
it. "Regardless of every other consider- 
ation," he said in his veto message of 
21 May, "it seems to me that the non- 
military activities of the War Department 
should give way at this time to the need 
for military preparedness." 3 He did not 
retreat from this position. Discussing the 



HO Table, prepared by OUSW (Sep 41), Constr 
Opns, FY's 1920-39. USW Files, Constr, Transfer 
QM-CE. (2) Map, OGE R&H Sec, Engr Dept, 
R&H Divs and Dists, i Jan 39. EHD Files. (3) OGE, 
Chart and Tabs Showing Costs of Engr Dept Work, 
FY's 1926-39, p. 24. EHD Files. 

2 Annual Report of the Chief of Engineers, U.S. Army, 
1940, Part 1, vol. 1, p. 1; Ibid., 1939; Part 1, vol. 1, 
P- 3- 

'86 Cong. Rec. 6513. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



245 





Bonneville Dam 



next budget with newsmen in November 
1940, he stated: 

Now, of course, you have to remember this, 
that if the Congressmen from a portion of 
Chesapeake Bay wanted such and such a 
creek deepened from four to six feet, so that 
the oyster boats could get in and out more 
handily, we probably would have all kinds 
of briefs up here to prove it was a matter 
vital to national defense. Almost everything 
in the way of public works, some people try 
to tie in with national defense. Now, I am 
trying to lay down a very strict rule that 
national defense means actually national defense, 
primarily munitions, and not things like 
highways. 



"And oysters?" a reporter asked. "And 
oysters," said the President. 4 

While they still had plenty of work to 
do, the Engineers were in a precarious 
position. A $133 million backlog of au- 
thorized projects and an unexpended 
balance of $380,258,000, which General 
Schley reported in mid- 1 940, were residue 
from better years. An appropriation of 
$172,800,000, approved on 24 June 1940, 
was for projects already on the books. 
Few, if any, new jobs were in sight. The 



4 Public Papers and Addresses, 1940, pp. 582-83. 



246 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



stream of civil projects was drying up. 
As the civil workload diminished, the 
Engineer Department would face drastic 
cuts in personnel — a prospect Schley 
viewed with serious apprehension. Be- 
cause the Corps had too few Regulars to 
cope with its expanding military func- 
tions, he foresaw no difficulty in finding 
new assignments for surplus officers. But 
surplus employees would have to go. The 
civilian organization, the backbone of 
the Engineer Department, was in danger 
of being crippled. 8 

To make matters worse, the Engineers' 
old adversaries were rallying again. Sur- 
rounding Hartman were veterans of the 
Construction Division of the Army, most 
of whom were still intensely loyal to their 
wartime outfit and its chief. Cold- 
shouldered by Quartermaster Regulars, 
General "Puck" Marshall was neverthe- 
less much in evidence, the center of a 
devoted group of oldtimers who wished 
to resurrect the separate construction 
corps of World War I. A brigadier general 
in the Reserve Corps, Marshall was a 
possible candidate for chief of an inde- 
pendent Construction Division. In the 
late spring of 1 940 members of his group 
tried unsuccessfully to enlist the support 
of the Hogan committee. Overtures to 
Colonel Hartman were rebuffed. But with 
the return of Benedict Crowell to the 
War Department, the outlook changed. 
As one of Stimson's closest advisers, 
Crowell was highly influential. The years 
had not dimmed his enthusiasm for a 
separate construction corps. Shortly after 
he assumed his new duties, the General 
Staff had before it a proposal for divorc- 
er) Presidential Message, 24 May 40. In 86 
Cong. Rec. 6513. (a) Annual Report of the Chief of En- 
gineers, U.S. Army, igjo, Part 1, vol. 1, pp. 20, 14. (3) 
Ind with Ltr, Schley to EHD, 5 Sep 53. 



ing the Construction Division from the 
Quartermaster Corps. Construction ap- 
peared to be heading down the same 
road it had followed in World War I — -a 
road that led to trouble for the Corps of 
Engineers. 6 

General Schley had a battle on his 
hands to preserve his organization and 
forestall formation of a separate corps. 
It was a battle the Engineers could not 
afford to lose. 

Growth of the Engineer Mission 

On 10 June 1940 the newly formed 
Hogan committee made its initial report 
to the Army and Navy Munitions Board. 
Calling attention to the limited size of 
Hartman's technical staff, the committee 
recommended that construction for the 
Ordnance Department be done by the 
Engineers. Otherwise, the committee re- 
vealed, half of the Corps' 6,000 civilian 
engineers would face dismissal. The re- 
port continued: "We would further 
recommend that the Corps of Engineers 
be consulted in regard to their ability 
to undertake the preparation of ad- 
ditional plans and drawings , 
rather than to attempt at this late date to 
organize a new and independent engi- 
neering force for the purpose as was done 
in the last war." 7 While the report was 
in preparation, Hogan and his colleagues 
solicited advice from the Engineers but 
had little contact with the Quartermaster 
Corps. The report produced no tangible 
results. 8 Even so, the committee's stand 
strengthened the Engineer position. 

• ( 1 ) Answers to Questionnaire, Hogan to authors, 
a Aug 57. (2) Pagan Interv, 8 Mar 57. (3) Memo, 
Moore for Marshall, 9 Jul 40. G-4/31 344-1. 

7 Rpt, Hogan Comm to ANMB, 10 Jun 40. ANMB 
334, Comm Members and Min. 

8 Answers to Questionnaire, Hogan to authors, 
a Aug 57. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



247 



While the Hogan committee took the 
lead in advocating a change, General 
Schley limited his activities to missionary 
work. Visiting appointees to key posts in 
the new defense setup, he told them about 
his organization, its record and its capa- 
bilities. After one such interview, he re- 
minded Knudsen: "I called on you a few 
days ago to give you a brief outline of the 
construction work which is normally done 
by the Corps of Engineers of the Army 
and to explain that the reduction in ap- 
propriations for that purpose in the cur- 
rent fiscal year makes it possible for us to 
take on some national defense construc- 
tion not already undertaken by other 
agencies." 9 The delicacy of Schley's po- 
sition was illustrated by a story he later 
told. Among the men to whom he talked 
was Harrison. When, a short time after 
their conversation, the two men met by 
accident, Harrison asked Schley what he 
was trying to do — pressure him, Harrison, 
into giving Quartermaster construction 
to the Engineers. Schley answered that 
since the Engineers would fall within 
Harrison's purview an explanation of 
their duties and potential had seemed in 
order. 10 

In his quest for additional projects, 
General Schley was sure to have strong 
support. The Engineers' strength on 
Capitol Hill was a well-known fact. The 
preference of the Chief of Staff and As- 
sistant Secretary Johnson for the Engi- 
neers was plainly apparent. What some 
failed to appreciate was the number of 
Engineer officers who held high-level 
posts in the War Department and the 
number of friends the Corps had within 
the industry. Since his appointment as 

* Ltr, Schley to Knudsen, 1 o Jul 40. 334 (NDAC) 
1940. 

10 Schley Interv, 26 Oct 55. 



Chief in 1937, General Schley had done 
his best to convince top military leaders 
that Engineer officers were "naturals for 
G-4" and other positions of broad re- 
sponsibility. On 30 June 1940 six Engi- 
neer officers, including General Moore, 
were serving with the General Staff and 
seven, among them Colonel Schulz, were 
on duty with the Assistant Secretary. The 
Inspector General, Maj. Gen. Virgil L. 
Peterson, was also a member of the Corps. 
However impartial they wished to be, 
these men still tended to think as Engi- 
neers. As for the industry, one important 
segment, the heavy construction con- 
tractors, generally favored the Engineers. 
"The Corps, for several years, had been 
progressively doing more of its construc- 
tion work by contract and less by hired 
labor," Schley explained. 11 Moreover, dis- 
satisfaction among contractors with Sea- 
man's handling of the Panama and 
Alaska projects in 1939 and the coolness 
of many construction men toward "Puck" 
Marshall reacted in the Engineers' favor. 

If the Engineers had important allies } 
they also had determined opponents. 
Hartman was not one to give up a single 
project without a fight. Nor did he lack 
support. Chairman Morris Sheppard of 
the Senate Military Affairs Committee 
was in accord with the Quartermaster 
position and so were a number of other 
legislators. Two sizable groups within the 
industry — -the building construction con- 
tractors and the American Society of 
Civil Engineers — were generally pro- 
Quartermaster. Moreover, proponents of 
a separate corps were certain to resist a 
transfer of defense work to Schley's 
organization, for it would hurt their own 
chances of success. 



11 Incl with Ltr, Schley to EHD, 5 Sep 53. 



248 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



During June and July the Engineers 
made slight gains. First, the Corps re- 
ceived approximately $10 million for 
fortifications. This money, which covered 
projects in the United States, Panama, 
and the Insular Departments, was to go 
primarily for seacoast defenses. 12 Second, 
General DeWitt obtained permission to 
have Engineer troops build two landing 
fields in the Alaska panhandle. Earlier 
plans had contemplated construction of 
these airstrips by the Civil Aeronautics 
Authority. 1 * Third, General Schley per- 
suaded Assistant Secretary Johnson to let 
the Corps build a plant at Cincinnati to 
produce metal mirrors for antiaircraft 
searchlights — an Engineer responsibility. 
The President allotted $520,000 for the 
purpose from the appropriation for expe- 
diting production. At Hartman's in- 
sistence, the Quartermaster Corps main- 
tained a measure of control. The Engineer 
officer in charge of the project was the 
CQM and reported to the Construction 
Division. 14 These additions to the Engi- 
neer program, however welcome, were 
too small to be consequential. 

Writing to Secretary Stimson on 23 
July, Maj. Walter E. Lorence of OCE 
indicated that districts and divisions were 
feeling the pinch. The Civil Service Com- 
mission had recently classified all federal 
agencies as defense or nondefense. Those 
in the first category enjoyed important 
advantages: they could refuse to let their 
employees transfer to other government 
departments and they could draft em- 



11 OCE Annual Rpt, Mil, FY 1940, pp. 73-74. 

"Karl G. Dod, The Corps of Engineers: The War 
Against Japan, UNITED STATES ARM Y IN 
WORLD WAR II (Washington, D.C., i966), |p. ig.| 

M ( 1 ) Elaine A. Nelson, The Construction of the 
War Department Metal Mirror Plants (MS), pp. 
5-6. EHD Files, (a) Memo, TQ.MG for ASW, 25 Jul 
40. SW Secret Files, 991-1 100. 



ployees of nondefense agencies. The Corps 
of Engineers fell within the second, non- 
defense, category. Protesting that many 
power and navigation projects and all 
fortifications work could "be properly 
described only as defense," Lorence asked 
that the Engineers be reclassified. The 
Secretary's office refused on the grounds 
that "the Engineer Department as a 
whole cannot be termed a national de- 
fense agency, particularly with reference 
to its river and harbor work." 1 " While 
Schley's organization seemed headed 
downhill, Hartman's was coming up. De- 
clining an offer of technical assistance 
from Interior Secretary Ickes, Stimson 
noted on 2 August: "The Quartermaster 
General has greatly augmented the engi- 
neering personnel of his department and 
expects to handle satisfactorily with his 
own force the routine design work in- 
volved." 18 

Meanwhile, something was stirring in 
Congress. On 24 July, at hearings of the 
House Subcommittee on Military Ap- 
propriations, a significant exchange took 
place between Representative John Taber 
and General Gregory: 

Mr. Taber. Would you not be a good deal 
better off if you turned most of that construc- 
tion of barracks and storehouses, and things 
of that sort, over to the Engineers? 

General Gregory. I do not think so; no. 

Mr. Taber. Give them that job. 

General Gregory. We have a construction 
division which we feel is fully adequate to 
meet the current construction problems. It 
has been operating for the last 20 years very 
satisfactorily. 17 



15 Ltr, Lorence to SW, 23 Jul 40, and 1st Ind, 7 
Aug 40. 4330 (Nat Def) Part 2. 

16 Ltr, Stimson to Ickes, 2 Aug 40. 6—4/31872. 

17 H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 76th Cong, 
3d sess, Hearings on Second Supplemental National 
Defense Appropriation Bill for 1941, p. 148. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



249 



Another member of the subcommittee, 
Representative Clarence Cannon, ques- 
tioned whether the Quartermaster Corps 
could do the job as efficiently as the Corps 
of Engineers. 18 Senator John E. Miller 
was also active in the Engineers' behalf. 
On 5 August he announced that he would 
offer an amendment to a rivers and 
harbors authorization bill pending on the 
Senate calendar. The amendment would 
empower the Secretary to transfer any 
part of defense construction to the Engi- 
neers. 19 Whether Miller had chosen the 
best bill for the purpose was questionable, 
the President's attitude toward new rivers 
and harbors legislation being what it was. 
But the idea of an amendment was 
promising. 

When Senator Miller's amendment 
came to the War Department for com- 
ment. Secretary Stimson was out of town 
and General Marshall was acting in his 
stead. The Chief of Staff's reaction to the 
proposal was entirely favorable. On 17 
August, he wrote the Senate Committee 
on Commerce: 

The U.S. Army Engineer Corps has an 
existing, widely extended field organization, 
fully equipped, and highly trained and ex- 
perienced in all types of construction work, 
which due to limitations contained in the 
National Defense Act of 1930, cannot be 
fully and expeditiously utilized under the 
present Defense Program. This amendment, 
if enacted, will . . . make all of the 
established facilities of the Corps of Engineers 
immediately available for the expeditious and 
efficient prosecution of such work. Its pas- 
sage will greatly facilitate the vigorous prose- 
cution of the National Defense Program. 

The Department accordingly recommends 
favorable consideration of the amendment. 29 

18 Ibid., pp. 147-48. 

" (i ) 86 Cong. Rec. 9834. (a) The Constructor, August 
1940, p. 11. 

** Ltr, Marshall to Chm S Coram on Commerce, 17 
Aug 40. Reds of U.S. Senate, Red Gp 46, H R 997a. 



Although the future of both branches 
was involved, the Engineers knew of 
Marshall's action; the Quartermaster 
Corps did not. 21 

Even before Marshall endorsed the 
amendment to the rivers and harbors 
bill, efforts were under way to attach the 
rider to another measure — the second 
supplemental defense appropriation for 
1941. High on the President's list of 
"must" legislation, the second supple- 
mental had far better prospects than the 
controversial, slow-moving rivers and 
harbors bilL On 15 August, the day the 
Senate concluded hearings on the ap- 
propriation measure, Assistant Secretary 
Patterson asked Senator Miller to sponsor 
the amendment. 22 Patterson later ex- 
plained his reasons for supporting the 
rider: 

It was pointed out to me by General 
Schley . . that he had large forces, 
integrated organizations on river and harbor 
work, in the Corps of Engineers, and the 
work was drying up, there was not any more 
work coming out, and was he to disband 
these forces that had worked well together, 
a group of, say, 30 men, each of whom had 
his task in a going concern, and just scatter 
diem to the winds and lose the benefits of 
years of contact and organization that they 
had, when the construction program of the 
Army needed exactly that organization, when 
we had none in the Quartermaster Corps 
comparable to the Corps of Engineers for 
the program that was right in front of us. 28 

It was Senator McKellar of the Ap- 
propriations Committee, rather than Sen- 
ator Miller, who put forward the pro- 

" (1 ) Ltr, Schley to Sen Miller, 1 7 Aug 40. Reds of 
U.S. Senate, Red Gp 46, H R 10263. ( a ) Statement 
of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 15. 

" Ltr, Patterson to Sen Miller, 15 Aug 40. 
Reds of U.S. Senate, Red Gp 46, H R 10963. 

15 Patterson's Testimony, 22 Sep 41 . In S Comm 
on Mil Affs, 77th Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on S 1884, p. 
«9- 



250 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



posal. On 19 August he notified the 
Senate that he would move to suspend 
the rules for the purpose of amending 
the appropriation bill as follows: "The 
Secretary of War may allocate to the 
Corps of Engineers any of the construc- 
tion works required to carry out the 
national-defense program and may trans- 
fer to that agency the funds necessary for 
the execution of the works so allocated." 24 
As one senator remarked, the proposed 
amendment was "slight in verbiage but 
rather important in consequence." 26 

After reading McKellar's proposal in 
the Congressional Record, Hartman went 
to Secretary Stimson, who was sympa- 
thetic but said his hands were tied. Stim- 
son explained that in his absence Schley 
and Schulz had brought in a letter favor- 
ing the amendment and Patterson had 
signed it. With Hartman present, Stimson 
called the Assistant Secretary into his 
office and inquired why he had signed. 
Patterson replied that the two Engineer 
officers had "very forcibly presented the 
matter as one in the national defense," 
and that inasmuch as he had been in 
office only two weeks, he "necessarily 
had to take the recommendations of 
senior officers such as General Schley, the 
Chief of Engineers, and Colonel Schulz, 
one of his own assistants." Because Patter- 
son had acted in good faith, Stimson was 
unwilling to ask that the amendment be 
stricken from the bill. But it was Hart- 
man's understanding that any steps taken 
by the Quartermaster Corps to kill the 
provision would meet with the Secre- 
tary's approval. 26 

Hartman was at a disadvantage. For 
the first time, the AGC refused to take 

M 86 Cong. Rec. 10470. 
** 86 Cong. Rec. 11633. 

"Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 14. 



the Quartermaster's side against the Engi- 
neers. At the September meeting of his 
executive committee, Managing Director 
Harding explained : 

On the question of the amendment to the 
last appropriation bill, the heat was terrible 
here. But I consulted with the President, 
Mr. Zachry, and we felt that there was only 
one course for us to follow and that was to 
be neutral. A great many of our members 
are doing work for the Army and a great 
many are doing work for the Engineer Corps. 
In addition to that, it was a family fight and 
we felt very definitely that it should be han- 
dled inside the Army. . . . We knew 
that the Assistant Secretary of War, who is 
in charge of the construction program, and 
the Chief of Staff, General Marshall, were in 
sympathy with this legislation; that they had 
recommended to the Congress that this legis- 
lation be passed and, therefore, it would be 
very ungracious for us to tell them that they 
weren't running the Army right. 

Harding had received assurances that the 
Engineers would do the work by contract 
rather than by day labor. 27 Unlike the 
general contractors, the specialty group 
opposed the amendment, but their pro- 
tests came too late to affect the outcome. 28 
With no time to rally effective support, 
Hartman resorted to a stratagem. "Steps 
were taken," he related, "to have the 
Senate change the wording of the bill in 
any manner possible so that it would be 
thrown into conference, at which time I 
hoped that we could present our side of 
the case and show the lack of need for 
such a law." 29 

On 29 August, as the second supple- 
mental moved toward a vote in the upper 
house, Senator McKellar offered the 

27 Min of Mtg, Exec Comm of AGC, 16 Sep 40, 
pp. 5-6. AGC Files. 

58 Ltr, O. R. McGuire to Chm S Comm on Com- 
merce, 5 Sep 40. Reds of U.S. Senate, Red Gp 46, H 
R-9972- 

! ' Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 15. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



251 



amendment on behalf of the Appropri- 
ations Committee. Four words had been 
added to the text — the Engineers could 
be assigned construction work "in their 
usual line." Little was said on the Senate 
floor. The only comment came from 
Senator Arthur H. Vandenberg, who 
called attention to the long-standing 
controversy between the construction 
services. "This is the first time that the 
Quartermaster Corps has lost," he said, 
"and the first time the Corps of Engineers 
has won." A routine question by Senator 
Wallace H. White, Jr., a reply by Senator 
McKellar, and that was all there was to 
it. The Senate agreed to the amendment. 30 
The House and Senate conferees met 
to consider the bill early in September. 
Reports reaching Hartman indicated that 
all but one of the conferees had agreed 
to eliminate the rider and that the Chief 
of Staff had then been called to testify. 31 
One of the conferees, Representative Clif- 
ton A. Woodrum of Virginia, summarized 
Marshall's testimony: 

General Marshall very emphatically en- 
dorsed this provision. He pointed out the 
fact that it in no way was an effort to tread 
upon the prerogatives of the Quartermaster 
General, that the Quartermaster General 
of the Army customarily was geared up to 
do a construction total of about $10,000,000 
a year, that under the defense program that 
figure had been skyrocketed to something 
like half a billion dollars, and that he did 
not have the set-up to do this work, whereas 
they had in many places over the country 
district engineers of the Army all set up and 
ready to go, especially qualified to do this 
work, and they could go right into the 
program immediately. 32 

Although Marshall made a deep impres- 
sion, the issue remained in doubt. Re- 

so 86 Cong. -Rec. iraoo. 

31 Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 15. 

35 86 Cong. Rec. 1 1560. 



ported in disagreement by the conference 
committee, the amendment still had to 
clear the House of Representatives. 33 

The final hurdle was quickly crossed. 
When the Joint Conference Committee 
reported the bill to the House on 5 Sep- 
tember, Representative Woodrum sug- 
gested two changes in the amendment — 
that the new authority be limited to 30 
June 1942 and that the phrase "in their 
usual line" be eliminated. In answer to 
objections against the rider, Woodrum 
emphasized that General Marshall had 
expressed his complete approval of the 
amendment when he appeared before 
the conferees. There were no further 
questions. The House approved the bill 
as amended, with the changes Woodrum 
had proposed, on 6 September 1940; the 
Senate agreed to the House version the 
following day; and on 9 September the 
President signed the bill. 34 

A week before this bill became law, 
the Destroyer-Base Agreement was signed 
at Washington. In exchange for fifty 
overage warships, Great Britain granted 
the United States the right to establish 
bases in the Bahamas, Trinidad, Jamaica, 
Antigua, St. Lucia, and British Guiana 
and, as a "gift" to the American people, 
added leaseholds in Newfoundland and 
Bermuda. Anticipating approval of the 
McKellar amendment, General Marshall 
on 6 September assigned construction at 
these bases to the Corps of Engineers. 
By the 25th Schley's office had completed 
a rough estimate based on plans of the 
General Staff. The cost would be up- 
wards of $200 million. An immediate 
allotment of $25 million from the Presi- 
dent's emergency fund enabled the Engi- 

M 86 Cong. Rec. 1 1 554. 

M (i) 86 Cong. Rec. 11560, 11631-11634. (2) 54 
Stat. 875. 



252 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



neers to make an early start. An order 
from Marshall that $i 75 million be made 
available before the end of the fiscal year 
for work in the British possessions indi- 
cated the urgency of the task. 34 

The Engineer program assumed new 
dimensions as the Corps received ad- 
ditional funds and fresh responsibilities. 
Under the supplemental defense ap- 
propriation acts of g September and 8 
October 1940, the Engineers got $6.7 
million for seacoast fortifications. The 
First Supplemental Civil Functions Ap- 
propriation Act for 1 94 1, approved on 
9 October 1940, carried some $13 million 
for navigation improvements, flood con- 
trol work, and enlargement of the power 
plant at Bonneville Dam. This same act 
appropriated $40 million for airport con- 
struction by the Civil Aeronautics Au- 
thority. The Department of Commerce 
viewed this as the beginning of a large- 
scale effort which would cost $500 million 
and include 3, 1 00 airfields. By agreement 
between Secretary Jesse H. Jones and 
Secretary Stimson, the Engineer Depart- 
ment would perform extensive survey and 
construction work for CAA. An act of 
17 October 1940 further enlarged the 
Engineers' role in emergency construction 
by authorizing twenty-two new rivers 
and harbors projects in the interest of 
national defense. By early November the 
Corps was in line for yet another assign- 
ment — supervision of all WPA projects 
at military and civilian airfields. 36 

The Engineers had made impressive 

,s (i) Langer and Gleason, Challenge to Isolation, 
pp. 766-69. (a ) David Latt, Engineers in the British- 
Owned Bases, 1940-1943 (MS), pp. 3-7. EHD Files. 

" (1 ) 54 Stat. 872, 965, 1030. (2) Ltr, Asst Secy of 
Commerce to ASW, 23 Aug 40, and Incl. WPD 
4239 to 18 Incl. (3) Ltr, Stimson to Jones, 21 Oct 
40. 32 1. 7. (4) 54 Stat. 895. (5) Memo, Sup Div G-4 for 
Reybold, 5 Nov 40. 600.1-425. 



gains. They had a substantial program 
and more work was in prospect. Many 
of their new projects, civil as well as 
military, were vital to defense. The Civil 
Service Commission recognized the Corps 
as a defense agency and placed the Engi- 
neer Department and all of its employees 
in the protected category. 37 But General 
Schley could not rest easy. He still had 
to contend with the faction that favored 
a separate construction corps. 

A Separate Corps? 

By September 1940 Benedict Crowell 
was deep in plans for reorganizing the 
War Department. Working with Arthur 
E. Palmer, a young attorney from Stim- 
son' s law firm, he reviewed the existing 
setup in the light of his World War I 
experience. A strong assistant secretary, 
centralized control over all Army pro- 
curement, and close ties with industry 
were among his principal objectives. De- 
scribing Crowell's plan for an indepen- 
dent Construction Division, another of 
Stimson's assistants, John J. McCloy, 
said: "[He] felt that a separate agency 
should be set up . . . and that it 
should not be exclusively under 
the direction of the Quartermaster 
General. . . . He placed a great 
deal of stress on the use of officials from 
the construction industry and he did feel 
that civilian control of it was essential." 38 
Crowell intended to re-establish the Con- 
struction Division of the Army and place 
it under Patterson. 

While Crowell's construction plan was 
taking shape, a fundamental weakness in 
the Quartermaster organization was be- 

" CSC Circ Ltr 2896, Suppl 7, 20 Sep 40. 4330 
Part 1, Ser 1-30. 
M Ltr, McCloy to authors, 13 Aug 57. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



253 



coming apparent. As early as 19 Sep- 
tember 1940 Maj. Sidney P. Simpson of 
Patterson's staff" had concluded that 
shortages of personnel, particularly of 
officers, lay at the root of Hartman's 
difficulties. A study of the Construction 
Division had convinced Simpson that the 
organizational machinery was sound and 
that all would go well if only enough 
qualified men could be found to run it. 
But enough such men could not be found. 
Throughout the fall of 1940 Hartman 
had to struggle along with two to three 
hundred fewer officers than he needed. 3 * 
Moreover, numbers told an incomplete 
story, for, as Hartman pointed out, the 
Division had "to take any officer even 
with remote construction experience in 
order to get the jobs . . . staffed." 40 
The makeup of his civilian staff reflected 
this same expediency. The lack of quali- 
fied personnel was unquestionably Hart- 
man's crudest handicap. 

Some of his critics failed to recognize 
this fact. Madigan and Harrison seemed 
to think that the crying need was for 
better management. They displayed 
growing impatience with Quartermaster 
systems of cost control, job planning, and 
progress reporting. When Hartman con- 
tinually disregarded their advice, they 
came to view him as "a complete road 
block." 41 Hogan agreed with them. He 
attributed confusion in the program "to 
Hartman's ignorance of the principles of 
delegation of authority . . . , his 
lack of judgment and vacillation under 



"(1) Memo, Simpson for Patterson, 19 Sep 40. 
QM 022 (Constr Div) Confidential. (2) QM 326.21 
QMGO, Asgmt for Active Duty, 1940. 

40 Memo, Hartman for McCloy, 2 Dec 40. QM 
210.31 2-1 940. 

41 Madigan Interv, 18 Jun 56. See also Madigan 
Files, 1 oi. 1 (Canton Design and Constr) and 100.3 
(FF Br Constr Div— Orgn). 



pressure."* 5 This attitude was contagious. 
Unsatisfactory progress and rising costs 
were generally ascribed to bungling by 
the Quartermaster Corps. Stimson and 
Patterson became more and more con- 
cerned. After Armistice Day events 
moved rapidly toward a showdown. 

On 12 November, in a confidential 
memorandum to Patterson, Major Simp- 
son recommended removing the Con- 
struction Division from the Quarter- 
master Corps and placing it directly 
under the Assistant Secretary. An investi- 
gation of the division's persistent shortage 
of officers had convinced Simpson that 
such a step was "basic to the effective 
carrying out of the construction pro- 
gram." Under the existing arrangement, 
Hartman was unable to select and assign 
his own personnel. Moreover, Gregory's 
insistence that "all papers to or from the 
Construction Division" be routed through 
his office was delaying orders for sorely 
needed officers. Before the personnel 
problem could be solved, Simpson be- 
lieved the division would have to be freed 
from the "straight-jacket organizational 
set-up in the Quartermaster Corps." 
Citing the precedent of World War I, 
he argued the necessity of "relieving 
what is fundamentally a civilian under- 
taking from the dead hand of orthodox 
military organization." Having learned 
from Crowell that the Secretary's office 
was studying a plan for a separate corps, 
Simpson suggested that Patterson sit back 
and await developments. The Assistant 
Secretary passed the memo on to Madi- 
gan for comment. 48 

42 Answers to Questionnaire, Hogan to authors, 2 
Aug 57. 

45 (1) Memo, Simpson for Patterson, 12 Nov 40, 
and Incl. (2) Memo, Patterson for Madigan, 12 
Nov 40. Both in Madigan Files, 100.3 C^F Br Con- 
str Div — Orgn). 



254 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



News of Simpson's proposal traveled 
fast and had immediate repercussions. 
Madigan lost no time in discussing the 
memorandum with Harrison and Hogan. 
All three agreed that something drastic 
ought to be done, but they were not yet 
ready to go as far as Simpson. They 
consulted General Burns who put them 
in touch with General Moore. After talk- 
ing at length with the Deputy Chief of 
Staff, the three industry men took the 
position that construction was an Army 
"show" and ought to stay within the 
Army. A civilian corps would be "too 
commercial." Nonetheless, if the Army 
fell down on the job, Crowell and Simp- 
son were likely to have their way. Appre- 
hensive, General Moore decided to take 
the initiative. On 13 November he and 
Reybold proposed that Marshall turn 
over airfield construction to the Engi- 
neers. Somewhat reluctantly, the Chief 
of Staff agreed. 44 He later testified, "I 
questioned seriously the transfer of the 
Air Corps construction to the Engineer 
Corps in the middle of the program." 
But, he continued, "I found myself com- 
pelled to accede to the recommendations 
of the principal staff officers con- 
cerned . . . because we had had to 
quickly reduce the load on the Quarter- 
master Corps." 4 * Moore viewed this as 
the first step. He believed it would also 
be necessary to replace Hartman and "to 
effect a complete reorganization." 46 

Learning what was afoot, Gregory 
called a conference for Thursday, 14 
November. Madigan, Harrison, Hogan, 

44 (i) Madigan Interv, 18 Jun 56. (2) Answers to 
Questionnaire, Hogan to authors, 2 Aug 57. (3) 
Moore's Comments on MS, 1955. (4) Memo, Reybold 
for Red, 14 Nov 40. G— 4/31343. 

46 30 Sep 41. In H Comm on Mil Afls, 77th Cong, 
1 st sess, Hearings on H R 5630, p. 14. 

46 Moore's Comments on MS, 1955, 



Reybold, Hartman, and Groves attended. 
"I gathered that they were preparing to 
remove Hartman and Gregory had de- 
manded that he be faced with his critics," 
Hogan afterward related. "Madigan and 
I had a little skull practice and decided 
to pull no punches." 47 Talk at the meeting 
was blunt and acrimonious. Opening the 
discussion with a plea for better manage- 
ment, Harrison stressed the need for a 
system of cost control. Hartman replied 
that such a system was already in oper- 
ation. Harrison contradicted him and 
warned that unless a change took place 
the Construction Division would be un- 
able to give an accounting of its funds. 
Madigan. Dismissing this criticism, Hart- 
man had already lost track of progress 
and expenditures, he demanded that con- 
tractors submit progress schedules and 
cost estimates periodically during the 
course of their work. Reybold backed up 
Madigan, Dismissing this criticism, Hart- 
man pointed out that his organization 
was "very much undermanned." His 
statement got a cold reception. 48 The 
discussion went on for several hours but 
produced no agreement. Hogan observed 
that Gregory "looked increasingly dis- 
heartened." 49 

Meanwhile, General Moore was at- 
tempting to clear the way for transferring 
airfield construction to the Engineers. On 
the afternoon of the 14th he discussed 
the matter with Colonel Kennedy of the 
Air Corps Buildings and Grounds Di- 
vision. Kennedy recommended against 
the transfer. Writing to Moore the fol- 



47 Answers to Questionnaire, Hogan to authors, 
2 Aug 57. 

48 Memo, Madigan for Patterson, 19 Nov 40. 
Madigan Files, 100.3 (FF Br Constr Div — Orgn). 

4 * Answers to Questionnaire, Hogan to authors, 2 
Aug 57. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



255 



lowing day he explained his reasons: 

The construction under the Air Corps 
Expansion Program so far has gone forward 
without any delays that could have been 
avoided .... 

I am convinced that if, in the midst of this 
program, decision is made to take all of this 
construction work out from under The Quar- 
termaster General and place it under 
the Corps of Engineers the amount of con- 
fusion that would accrue would result in 
chaos for weeks and fatal delay when these 
Air Corps new stations are so badly needed 
for early occupancy. 

If a transfer took place, he wanted to 
confine it to projects not yet well under- 
way. He also wanted assurance that jobs 
costing $ 1 million or more would be done 
by fixed-fee contract. 60 Kennedy's oppo- 
sition was ineffective. On the 18th, after 
a second conference with Moore and 
Reybold, General Marshall ordered that 
construction at all Air Corps stations, 
except those in Panama, go over to the 
Engineers without delay. On 19 Novem- 
ber Reybold issued the directive. 51 

That same day, Marshall held a con- 
ference in his office to discuss the Quarter- 
master construction effort. Among those 
present were Madigan, Harrison, Hogan, 
Moore, and Reybold. No Quartermaster 
officer attended. Madigan set the tone of 
the meeting. After expounding his ideas 
on estimates, schedules, and progress re- 
ports, he told the others, "Take it from 
one who came up from waterboy that 
you can't reorganize a job by keeping 
the same superintendent." Hogan, 
Moore, and Reybold joined in an in- 
dictment of Hartman. "Hartman does 
too much himself," Hogan said. "Hart- 



60 Memo, Kennedy for Moore, 1 5 Nov 40. G-4/ 
3*343- 

"D/S, G-4 to TAG, 19 Nov 40, and record 
thereon. 0—4/31324. 



man takes no suggestions," said Moore. 
"No planning in his office or in the field," 
Reybold declared. Harrison had some 
words of appreciation. "Hartman and 
his six top men are faced with the hardest 
job in the Army," he said. "They are 
getting a lot done and well done, but," 
he agreed, "there could be great im- 
provement." 52 Marshall asked each man, 
in turn, whether Hartman ought to go. 
All replied yes. The Chief of Staff rose, 
shook hands all around, and thanked 
each man for coming. Whether he in- 
tended to follow their advice, he did not 
say. 63 

Within a short time after this con- 
ference, an effort was under way to side- 
track Hartman. Whether because, as 
some believed, Marshall was reluctant to 
act or because, as others reported, Greg- 
ory fought stubbornly for Hartman, the 
strategy had changed. A search was on 
for a man who could go in as Deputy 
Chief of Construction and assume au- 
thority. Groves was Gregory's choice for 
the deputy's job, and Hartman agreed to 
take him. 54 "It had been or was about 
to be announced that I was appointed 
as Deputy to Hartman," Groves remi- 
nisced. "When I first joined the Con- 
struction Division on November 14th, I 
was designated Chief of the Fixed Fee 
Branch. A short time later I took over all 
operations and had already assumed 
many of the prerogatives of Deputy 
Chief." 65 This arrangement did not long 



M Notes of Conf in OCofS, 19 Nov 40. OCS, Notes 
on Confs, 26 Sep 40 — . 

53 (1) Ibid. (2) Answers to Questionnaire, Hogan 
to authors, 2 Aug 57. (3) Memo, Madigan for Patter- 
son, 19 Nov 40. 

H (i) Groves Comments, V, 2-3. (2) Madigan 
Interv, 18 Jun 56; Burns Interv, 24 May 56; Groves 
Interv, 19 Jun 56. 

05 Groves Second Draft Comments, VII, 5. 



256 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Colonel Somervell 



continue. Speaking for himself and Har- 
rison, Madigan explained, "We were not 
having any part of that Engineer 
major." 6 * 

In Washington at the time, awaiting 
assignment to Camp Leonard Wood, was 
Lt. Col. Brehon B. Somervell, CE. A 
1914 West Point graduate, Somervell had 
had a varied and somewhat unusual 
career. During World War I he served 
in France, first with the 15th Engineer 
Regiment and later with the 89th Di- 
vision. After the Armistice he stayed on 
in Europe as G— 4 of the Third Army. 
Returning to the United States in 1920 
he took up the peacetime duties of an 
Engineer officer. His service during the 
next fifteen years included three tours in 
the Chiefs office and assignments to the 
New York, Memphis, and Washington 
Districts. During this same period he 
completed courses at the Engineer School, 

M Madigan Interv, 18 Jun 56. 



the Command and General Staff School, 
and the Army War College. Twice he 
received leaves of absence for special 
missions abroad. In 1925 he aided 
Walker D. Hines in a study of navi- 
gation on the Danube for the League 
of Nations. Eight years later he again 
assisted Hines, this time in an economic 
survey of Turkey. In 1935 he became 
district engineer at Ocala, Florida. There, 
in the course of work on the Florida Ship 
Canal, he met Harry Hopkins, with 
whom he formed a close association. In 
1936 Somervell became WPA adminis- 
trator in New York City. In four years 
with the relief agency he gained a repu- 
tation as an able executive and adroit 
politician. As his tour in New York drew 
to a close in the fall of 1940, he began 
casting about for a new assignment. He 
approached General Marshall about a 
field command and he also talked to 
General Moore. The results were dis- 
appointing. General Schley selected him 
to be executive officer of the new Engineer 
Training Center at Camp Wood, a re- 
sponsible position but hardly what 
Somervell had in mind. One day in No- 
vember over luncheon, Madigan told him 
about the Construction Division job. 
Somervell said he would "love" it. 
Madigan, who was familiar with WPA 
operations in New York City, believed 
he had found the right man. 57 

Plans for a separate corps were still 
very much alive. By 22 November a 
proposal for an independent, civilian-run 
Construction Division had reached 

" ( 1 ) WD Press Release, 1 7 May 42, Lt. Gen. B. B. 
Somervell. EHD Files. (2) John D. Millett, The 
Organization and Role of the Army Service Forces, UNITED 
STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Wash- 
ington, 1954), pp. 3-5. (3) Answers to Questionnaire, 
Moore to authors, 3 Jan 56. (4) Madigan Interv, 18 
Jun 56. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



257 



General Marshall. He took the matter 
up with General Moore. 68 Recalling this 
interview, Moore commented: 

General Marshall called me into his office 
and told me verbally that it had been sug- 
gested that all construction work be placed 
in the hands of civilians. I replied vigorously 
that, in the past, it had been the civilian 
branches of the Government that had called 
upon the Army to help them in construction 
matters and cited the help given by Corps of 
Engineers officers in the Panama Canal and, 
more recently, the large operations of the 
WPA and other relieforganizations. I thought 
the Army could do a better job than a ci- 
vilian organization. 59 

There were others to be persuaded be- 
sides the Chief of Staff. The White House 
favored CrowelFs idea. Stimson believed 
that the construction "problem would 
only be solved by getting a man, be he a 
civilian or a soldier, who had the neces- 
sary drive to invigorate the program and 
bring it to fruition." 60 Madigan was in a 
position to influence the decision. Ac- 
cording to his own account, he laid down 
the law to Moore. Either the military 
would do what Madigan thought neces- 
sary or he would come out "flat-footed" 
and state that the Army could not handle 
the job." 

On 28 November Somervell reported 
for temporary duty with General Peter- 
son. His orders to Camp Wood were a 
dead letter and General Moore was at- 
tempting to arrange his transfer to the 
Construction Division. Gregory, Madigan 
recalled, was averse to taking him, con- 
sidered him too aggressive; but others 
gave him enthusiastic backing. Hopkins 



5t ( 1 ) Pagan Interv, 8 Mar 57. (2) Memo, Marshall 
for Moore, 22 Nov 40. OCS 14554-819. 
M Moore's Comments on MS, 1 955. 

Ltr, McCloy to authors, 1 3 Aug 57. 
u Madigan Interv, 18 Jun 56. 



had high praise for his work with WPA. 
Hogan, a personal friend, expressed con- 
fidence in his abilities. Harrison went 
along with Madigan and Hogan. In- 
quiries by members of Stimson's staff 
disclosed that the 48-year-old lieutenant 
colonel had a reputation as a driver and 
a good administrator. Operating out of 
Peterson's office, Somervell prepared for 
the Quartermaster assignment. He con- 
ferred with various persons familiar with 
Hartman's difficulties and lined up Engi- 
neer officers to serve with him in the 
Construction Division. Between 30 No- 
vember and 4 December he visited Chi- 
cago, St. Louis, Charlestown, Indiana, 
and Louisville, Kentucky, on a whirl- 
wind tour of inspection. He presented his 
findings in a 14-page report criticizing 
the Quartermaster effort. 62 

Meanwhile Gregory, smarting from 
slaps at the Quartermaster Corps, had 
taken the situation in hand. In a series 
of quick moves, he tried to quiet the 
commotion. On 25 November he gave 
his deputy a list of complaints against 
the Construction Division and told him 
to take corrective action. That same day 
the first of a series of orders canceling old 
instructions and establishing new pro- 
cedures went to the field. Within a short 
time persons sympathetic to the separate 
corps idea were being ousted from their 
posts. Quartermaster Regulars who had 
had no connection with the Construction 
Division of the Army replaced Lamphere, 
White, and Bennett. Decentralization was 



" (1) Memo, Pers Sec OCE for DGofEngrs, 29 
Nov 40. 025.1 Part 2. (2) Ltr, Moore to EHD, 15 
Jun 53- (3) Madigan Interv, 18 Jun 56. (4) Ltr, 
McCloy to authors, 13 Aug 57. (5) Answers to 
Questionnaire, Hogan to authors, 2 Aug 57. (6) 
Memo, JGL for Red, 6 Dec 40. OCS, Notes on Confs- 
25 Sep 40 — . (7) Memo, Somervell for Gregory, 9 
Dec 40. EHD Files. 



258 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



the next step. Invoking the example of 
the Corps of Engineers, Gregory early in 
December ordered Hartman to set up 
regional offices similar to those that ad- 
ministered rivers and harbors projects. 
Convinced that centralized control of 
military construction was essential, Hart- 
man refused. Gregory thereupon decided 
to relieve him. The decision, Gregory 
insisted, was his and his alone. 63 

Colonel Danielson was the logical man 
to succeed General Hartman. A Quarter- 
master officer since 1920, he was par- 
ticularly well qualified to head the Con- 
struction Division. He was, by general 
agreement, one of the best engineers in 
the Army. With degrees from Iowa State 
College and MIT, he had a sound aca- 
demic background. He was a recognized 
authority on utilities design and airport 
development; and he had served as chair- 
man of the research committee of the 
American Society of Heating and Venti- 
lating Engineers. He knew from experi- 
ence the workings of the Quartermaster 
organization and understood the prob- 
lems that it faced. His assignments had 
included tours as CQM, post QM, corps 
area utilities officer, and branch chief in 
the central office. During the 1920's he 
had played a leading role in modernizing 
Army posts. In 1934 he had directed the 
$50 million emergency relief construction 
program. As CQM for Panama since 
1939 his record was outstanding. From 
friends who were in Gregory's office at 
the time, Danielson afterward learned 
that his name went on the bulletin board 

63 ( r ) Memo, Gregory for Dep QMG, 25 Nov 40. 
QM 600.1 (Misc) 1940. (2) FF Ltr 25, 25 Nov 40, and 
various subsequent FF Ltrs. EHD Files. (3) Memo, 
Lt Col James W. Younger, QMC, for Hartman, 6 
Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Orgn and Consolidation. (4) 
Groves Interv, 19 Jun 56. (5) Verbatim Rpt, Meeting 
with Gregory and Hastings. 



as Chief of Construction on Friday, 6 
December. The following Monday the 
notice came down and Somervell's name 
went up. Reportedly, the White House 
had called the turn." 

On Wednesday, 1 1 December, the 
change in command took place. Recalling 
the event, General Hartman wrote: 
"General Gregory came into my office 
early in the afternoon of December i ith 
and I knew by the scared look on his 
face that he had bad news for me. He 
informed me that I was relieved from the 
Construction Division at once. I did not 
give him the courtesy of a reply. I im- 
mediately closed my desk and de- 
parted." 65 As Hartman left by one door, 
Somervell came in the other. That day 
Secretary Stimson wrote in his diary: 

Another crisis has come up in the Depart- 
ment. General Hartman, who has had charge 
of construction in the Quartermaster Corps, 
is being relieved and Lt. Col. Somervell is 
being placed in his place. It is a pathetic 
situation because Hartman has been a loyal 
and devoted man. He has conducted the 
difficult and delicate work of choosing these 
contractors in these bids on numerous proj- 
ects without a taint of scandal of any sort 
thus far. But he apparently lacks the gift of 
organization and he has been running be- 
hind in the work. Accordingly, General 
Marshall came in this morning to tell me 
that it was his advice that this change should 
be made and I gave my approval to it as a 
matter of course, for I knew very well that 
Marshall has given careful and fair considera- 
tion of it and felt just as kindly towards 
Hartman as I did. But it makes another prob- 
lem to be handled at the coming Press con- 
ference.** 

At Stimson's weekly news conference 



Answers to Questionnaire, Danielson to 
authors, 1 4 May 59. (2) Kirkpatrick Interv, 4 Apr 51 ; 
Pagan Interv, 2 Jun 55. 

"Statement of Gen Hartman, 5 Jul 55, p. 17. 

w Stimson Diary, 1 1 Dec 40. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



259 



on 12 December, the "ticklish" question 
of Hartman's relief did not arise. 67 A 
War Department press release dated 13 
December announced Somervell's ap- 
pointment. The release disclosed that 
Hartman had entered Walter Reed Hos- 
pital "for observation and treatment fol- 
lowing a long period of overwork" and 
stated "that the delays in certain of the 
construction projects . . . had no 
bearing on the assignment of Colonel 
Somervell; that these delays had been 
due to causes beyond the control of the 
Construction Division." 68 At his next 
press conference, Stimson introduced 
Somervell to the reporters and made a 
statement "designed to protect poor old 
Hartman, who has been as faithful as 
could be and has broken down under 
the task, from being unjustly criticized." 69 
Press reaction was mixed. "All the dead 
generals were not sleeping under statues 
last week," began an item in Time, which 
lambasted Stimson and "the bumbling 
quartermasters." 70 Publishing an inter- 
view with William F. Carey of Harrison's 
staff, the New York Times presented a 
different picture. "The Lord Himself 
could not meet the construction time- 
tables and cost estimates first set for the 
camps," it quoted Carey. "It was a literal 
impossibility to finish the work in the 
time originally set. I don't know who 
made out the original time and cost 
estimates, but whoever did was expecting 
the impossible." 71 



" Stimson Diary, 12 Dec 40. 

88 WD Press Release, 13 Dec 40. EHD Files. 
•* Stimson Diary, 19 Dec 40. 

70 TYme, December 23, 1940, p. 16. Reprinted by 
pcrmbsion from TIME, The Weekly Newsmagazine; 
Copyright Time Inc. 1940. 

"New York Times, December 28, 1940, p. 6. © 
1940 by The New York Tim^s Company. Reprinted 
by permission. 



Hartman's long career in construction 
was over. Admitted to Walter Reed on 
1 1 December, he remained on sick leave 
until April 1941, when he took command 
of the Quartermaster Replacement Cen- 
ter at Fort Lee. He served at Lee until 
March 1942, when he suffered a near- 
fatal heart attack brought on, friends 
believed, by grief over his removal as 
Chief of Construction. On 30 April 1943 
General Hartman retired on disability 
after 39 years' service. Five years before 
his death in 1962 he stated: "I have no 
apologies, and if I had it to do over I 
would do the same thing again." 72 

Reorganization and Restqffing 

Two days before his appointment, 
Somervell outlined plans for overhauling 
the construction setup. Writing to Greg- 
ory on g December, he recommended 
drastic changes: reorganize the Con- 
struction Division, reduce the number of 
branches, and create several new sec- 
tions; strengthen the field, establish re- 
gional offices, and decentralize authority 
"to the maximum extent possible"; and 
review the qualifications of construction 
personnel and replace incompetents with 
top-flight engineers and executives. 73 Left 
free to make these changes, Somervell 
promised to get results. 

The new chief was in a far stronger 
position than Hartman had been. It was 
rumored at the time of his appointment 
that he had demanded and got a blank 
check from Gregory. McCloy in Stim- 
son's office thought he had "full and 
independent powers." 74 Major Thomas 

72 Quoted by Mrs. Pagan in Interv with authors, 
8 Mar 57. 

73 Memo, Somervell for Gregory, 9 Dec 40. EHD 
Files. 

7< Ltr, McCloy to authors, 1 3 Aug 57. 



260 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



in the field sensed that Somervell, "a 
much bigger fish" than Hartman, had 
taken over the construction duties of The 
Quartermaster General. 75 Questioned 
about this later, General Gregory said: 

My policy has always been if anybody is 
placed in charge of a job, let him do it. I 
don't try to run it for them. So if he was put 
in charge of Construction Division, he was 
in charge of Construction Division, although 
I expected if anything went wrong and I 
said to correct it, I wanted it corrected. As 
far as his demanding anything like that 
[a blank check], I don't think that is true. 

Somervell hardly needed a carte blanche 
agreement, such was the high-level sup- 
port he could count on. He had, as 
Gregory put it, "a pipeline to General 
Marshall" and could "go around Moore 
and Reybold and get what he wanted." 76 
He enjoyed Stimson's admiration and 
respect. Most important, he had the con- 
fidence of Hopkins and the President. 
The door to the White House was always 
open to him and those with whom he 
dealt were not likely to forget it. 77 

Somervell knew what he wanted in the 
way of an organization. He favored a 
type of setup known as line and staff and 
characterized by a high degree of de- 
centralization, a minimum number of 
bosses, and a sharp distinction between 
those who gave orders and those who 
advised. Applied to the Quartermaster 
structure, line and staff principles sug- 
gested three levels of authority — Con- 
struction Division, regional offices, and 
project offices. The Chief of Construction 



M Thomas Interv, 27 Dec 55. 
"Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings. 

77 (1) Stimson Diary, 19 Dec 40, 3 Jan 41. (2) 
Intervs with Pirnie and Voorhees, 14 Jan 58; Gen 
Groves, 19 Jun 56; Brig. Gen. Clarence Renshaw, 
1 3 Feb 59. 



would issue orders to his regional repre- 
sentatives, who would, in turn, direct the 
Constructing Quartermasters. At each 
level of authority, the responsible officer 
would have his own advisers. Policy 
matters would be decided in Washing- 
ton; local problems would be setded on 
the spot. Up-to-date management meth- 
ods and good public relations completed 
Somervell's organizational formula. 78 

On 16 December 1940, his fifth day in 
office, Somervell reorganize d the Con- 
struction Division. {Chart 5) He reduced 
Hartman' s eleven branches to five — Ad- 
ministrative, Accounts, Engineering, 
Operations, and Real Estate. Adminis- 
trative absorbed personnel functions 
which had been in the Executive Office. 
Accounts took in the former Funds and 
Estimates and Accounting and Auditing 
Branches. Engineering annexed the 
Liaison and Legal Branches and con- 
tracting groups from other sections of the 
office. Operations incorporated the 
former Fixed Fee, Lump Sum, Procure- 
ment and Expediting, and Repairs and 
Utilities Branches. Of all Hartman' s 
branches, only Real Estate remained un- 
changed. Somervell added two new sec- 
tions to the Executive Office; the first, 
Control, was to be a management unit, 
preparing statistics and reports and co- 
ordinating the work of the various 
branches; the second, Public Relations, 
was to place the construction story before 
the public. 79 Details of the new organi- 
zation were left for later. Further changes 
would take place after the branch chiefs 
had conferred. With the program at a 

18 ( t ) John D. Millett, The Works Progress Adminis- 
tration in New York City (Chicago: Public Administra- 
tion Service, 1938), p. 676". (a) Incl, n.d., with 
Constr Div Ltr 361, 22 Jul 41. EHD Files. 

™ OQMG Office Order 137, 14 Dec 40. Opns Br 
Files, Orgn and Consolidation. 



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262 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 





Colonel Leavey Major Robinson Colonel Styer 



critical stage, Somervell believed "the 
reorganization should be one of evolution 
rather than revolution." From his office 
came the reminder: "The Construction 
Division is a going concern in the midst 
of a huge program. Our efforts should 
strive to help this living organization run 
more efficiently, more smoothly with a 
bit more speed." 80 

Of the old branch chiefs, only two 
retained their positions. Groves headed 
Operations and Valliant continued as 
chief of Real Estate. Other top posts 
went to newcomers. Lt. Col. James W. 
Younger, QMC, recently of the Assistant 
Secretary's office, took over the Adminis- 
trative Branch. Lt. Col. Walter A. 
Pashley, QMC, holder of a Master's 
degree in Business Administration from 
Harvard University, became head of the 
Accounts Branch. Engineering went to 
Lt. Col. Edmond H. Leavey, CE, former 
deputy administrator of the New York 
City WPA, Control, to Capt. Clinton F. 

80 Memo, Office Chief Constr Div OQ.MG for 
Chief Admin Br, 18 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Office 
Memos, 12/19/40-4/30/41. 



Robinson, CE, another alumnus of the 
New York City relief agency. The public 
relations assignment fell to George S. 
Holmes, veteran newspaperman and 
former Washington correspondent for the 
Scripps-Howard chain. As his deputy and 
executive officer, Somervell chose an old 
friend and fellow Engineer officer, Lt. 
Col. Wilhelm D. Styer. Most of these 
men were relatively young and promis- 
ing. Except for Holmes and Valliant, 
none had reached his forty-eighth birth- 
day. Younger later rose to be a brigadier 
general; Leavey and Robinson, to be 
major generals; Styer and Groves, to be 
lieutenant generals. Significantly, Somer- 
vell's staff included four Engineer officers. 

This group began almost af once to 
transform the Construction Division. 
Branch chiefs soon were busy with plans 
for internal reorganization and before 
long were shifting units from one office 
to another, seeking additional space, and 
studying personnel requirements. On 20 
December Somervell inaugurated a series 
of weekly staff conferences. A short time 
later Holmes issued his first press release. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



263 



By the end of the month Robinson was 
ready to begin publishing a weekly 
progress report. 81 Meanwhile, the new 
Chief of Construction pushed on toward 
his next objective, establishment of 
regional offices. 

Within a week of Somervell's coming, 
rumors of impending change had begun 
to circulate. The press carried reports 
that building work would soon go to the 
corps areas. Old construction hands came 
forward with advice and encouragement. 
On 17 December Somervell acknowl- 
edged that he wished to make a change 
but said that details were still uncertain. 
Behind the scenes he worked to clear the 
way for territorial zones. He instructed 
Styer to draft an order setting forth the 
authority and responsibilities of the zones. 
He told Younger to decide whether the 
new offices should be established by law, 
Army Regulation, or official instructions. 
He asked Groves to recommend men who 
could serve as Zone Constructing 
Quartermasters. 82 By Christmas, all was 
in readiness. 

A War Department Circular of 30 De- 
cember 1940 established nine territorial 
construction zones having the same 
boundaries and head quarters as the nine 
corps areas. {Map 2) Heading each zone 
would be a Zone Constructing Quarter- 
master (ZCQM), responsible to The 
Quartermaster General. The zone offices 
would be miniature Construction Di- 
visions, doing much of the work pre- 



81 ( 1 ) Opns Br Files, Office Memos, Dec 40- Apr 41 . 
Opns Br Files, Pers, Dec 40-Apr 41. (q) Min, Constr 
Div Staff Mtg, ao Dec 40. EHD Files. (3) Memo, 
Holmes for PubRelO OQMG, 31 Dec 40. (4) Con- 
str Div OQMG, Constr Progress Charts I , 2 Jan 4 1 . 

82 (1) Ltr, Somervell to CG Seventh Corps Area, 
17 Dec 40, and related correspondence in QM 
323.362. (a) Opns Br Files, Territorial Zones; and 
Pers, Dec 40-Apr 41, 



viously done in Washington. The ZCQM 
would supervise and control all CQM's 
within his territory; make frequent in- 
spections of projects; award advertised 
contracts for $500,000 or less without 
consulting Washington; represent The 
Quartermaster General in dealing with 
respective corps area commanders; and, 
in fact, relieve the chief of the Con- 
struction Division of "any problems 
which are susceptible of proper solution 
locally." 83 Somervell called the zones the 
"backbone" of his organization. "The 
Zone Quartermasters must function," he 
told his staff. "If they don't, we won't." 84 
Nevertheless, Somervell, like Hartman, 
recognized the need for strong centralized 
control over design, contract negotiations, 
and other advisory and directive func- 
tions. Such functions remained in his own 
office. 

The nine newly appointed zone con- 
structing quartermasters who reported to 
General Gregory early in January had 
been singled out by Groves as the best 
men available. Three came from CQM 
and Vicinity offices, the archetypes, if 
such there were, of the zones. Five came 
from important projects, where they had 
made excellent records as CQM's. All 
were Quartermaster Regulars and career 
construction officers. When the group 
had assembled, Gregory announced their 
assignments. Maj. Ralph G. Richards 
would head the First Zone; Lt. Col. 
Murdock A. McFadden, the Second; 
Maj. Joseph H. Burgheim, the Third; 
Col. Henry L. Green, the Fourth; Maj. 
Benjamin F. Vandervoort, the Fifth; and 
Capt. Everett C. Hayden, the Sixth. 
Maj. Morton E. Townes, Lt. Col. Edwin 

83 WD Circular 158, Sec 1. 

84 Notes, Conf on Orgn of Constr Div, attended by 
members of Constr Div, 2a Feb 41. EHD Files. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



265 



V. Dunstan, and Lt. Col. Edward M. 
George were named to Zones Seven, 
Eight, and Nine, respectively. After three 
days of conferences, the Zone Construct- 
ing Quartermasters left to take up their 
duties in the field. 85 

Aware that no organization, however 
streamlined, was better than the men 
who composed it, Somervell gave con- 
siderable thought to personnel. He set 
exacting standards. His subordinate offi- 
cers would have to be aggressive leaders, 
capable of hard work and sound judg- 
ment; his civilian advisers, eminent pro- 
fessionals, top men in their fields. His 
staff would include "operators" with im- 
portant industrial connections. 86 Somer- 
vell put a premium on youth and drive. 
Given "an enthusiastic younger man" 
and "an older, more experienced person 
who has lost some of his steam," he 
generally preferred the former. 87 Go- 
getters, crack executives, and prominent 
consultants — these were the men who 
would henceforth run the program. Any- 
one who failed to measure up would have 
to go. Once convinced that a man was 
unsuited for his job, Somervell intended 
to act fast. "I will not talk . . . ," 
he told Reybold. "I will just move." 88 

A personnel shakeup accompanied the 
reorganization. Key members of Hart- 
man's team received less important posts. 
Birdseye became Styer's assistant; Nurse, 
Leavey's executive. Men like Bayer and 
Leisenring, who had been prominent in 
the division's affairs, found themselves in 



"WD Press Release, 6 Jan 41, Nine ZCQM's 
Appointed. EHD Files. 

'•Memo, Somervell to Br Chiefs, 21 Jan 41. 
Opns Br Files, Gen — 16 Dec 40-2 Jun 41. 

81 Memo, Somervell for Control Sec, 2 Apr 41 . 
Opns Br Files, Management Engrg Unit. 

88 Tel Conv, Somervell and Reybold, 18 Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Cp Wallace. 



the background. Others resigned or trans- 
ferred out. Koke left in mid-December, 
following a disagreement with Somervell 
over auditing procedures. 89 Violante was 
relieved at his own request early in Jan- 
uary, after informing Somervell that he 
"was not in tune with his administra- 
tion." 90 Some twenty Constructing 
Quartermasters were ousted from their 
projects. Scores of lesser figures were 
struck down by what some called the 
"Somervell blitz." Yet the number af- 
fected was comparatively small; a ma- 
jority of Hartman's people continued in 
their jobs. "That we have not had more 
poor ones, I think, is a question of luck, 
to a considerable extent," Somervell com- 
mented, "and also the good judgment of 
the people who picked them out." 91 

The need for more officers sparked a 
recruiting drive. The search led naturally 
to the Corps of Engineers. Two days after 
Christmas, Styer asked the Chief's office 
for the loan of several Regulars, but the 
Engineers, also short of officers, refused. 
"This source of supply," Styer concluded, 
"cannot be considered at the present 
time." 92 Somervell was not so easily dis- 
couraged. At his prompting, Gregory on 
30 December appealed to Schley for 
three officers to fill key positions in the 
Construction Division. Gregory's letter, 
reinforced by an appeal from Somervell 
to Marshall, turned the trick. Early in 
January two Engineers, Maj. Hugh J. 
Casey and Capt. Edmund K. Daley, 
joined Colonel Leavey, and a third, Capt. 
Garrison H. Davidson, joined Colonel 

eg Incl with Ltr, Koke to authors, 25 May 59. 
B0 Answers to Questionnaire, Violante to authors, 
2 5 Se P 57- 

H Transcript, Conf on Constr Div, conducted by 
Somervell, 29 Jan 41, p. 74. EHD Files. 

81 Memo, Styer for Younger, 28 Dec 40, Opns Br 
Files, Pers, Dec 40- Apr 41. 



266 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Groves. Schley made the loan on one 
condition — Gregory had to agree to re- 
lease the three officers in June. 93 

The hunt fanned out in many direc- 
tions. Gregory asked The Surgeon Gen- 
eral and the Chief of Ordnance to lend 
officers who could help design hospitals 
and industrial plants. Somervell re- 
quested twenty West Point graduates of 
the class of 1 941 . Styer meanwhile tried 
to borrow officers from other divisions in 
Gregory's office. A search of Retired and 
Reserve lists yielded many good possi- 
bilities. Members of the Construction Di- 
vision were constantly on the lookout for 
prospects. A chance meeting with an old 
acquaintance or a letter from a fellow 
officer was often enough to start negoti- 
ations. While some of these schemes came 
to naught, others bore fruit. The list of 
officers on construction duty grew steadily 
longer. Many of the men Somervell 
brought in did excellent work; most, 
though by no means all, proved compe- 
tent. 94 

Somervell set out to acquire a staff of 
outstanding civilians and in this he suc- 
ceeded. The list of prominent men who 
came to work for the Construction Di- 
vision read like a roster of "who's who" 
in engineering and allied professions. 
Alonzo J. Hammond, president of the 
American Engineering Council, joined 
the Construction Advisory Committee. 
Henry A. Stix, vice president and comp- 
troller of the Associated Gas and Electric 
Company, agreed to manage the di- 
vision's finances. Among those who ac- 

83 ( 1 ) Ltr, Gregory to Schley, 30 Dec 40. Opns Br 
Files, Pers, Dec 40-Apr 41. (2) Schley Interv, 26 
Oct 55; Reybold Interv, 12 Mar 59. (3) Verbatim 
Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and Hastings. (4) Ltr, 
OGE to TAG, 2 Jan 41 . Opns Br Files, Misc Papers. 

M Opns Br Files, Pers, Dec 40-Apr 41, and May 41- 
Jan 42. 



cepted full-time employment with the 
Engineering Branch were George E. 
Bergstrom, president of the American 
Institute of Architects; Frederick H. 
Fowler, president of the American So- 
ciety of Civil Engineers; Warren H. 
McBryde, past president of the American 
Society of Mechanical Engineers; Albert 
D. Taylor, president of the American 
Society of Landscape Architects; and 
Leonard C. Urquhart, professor of struc- 
tural engineering at Cornell. Discussing 
these appointments, Groves wrote: 

The reason for selecting these prominent 
men was not so much for the expected ac- 
complishments, but rather to have a group 
in whom the professional men and profes- 
sional societies, as well as the public, would 
have full confidence. Somervell hoped, and 
his hopes were fulfilled, that this would im- 
prove the public attitude toward the Con- 
struction Division. 95 

Besides the distinguished men who be- 
came regular employees, there were some 
who agreed to act as consultants. 
Rudolph W. Van Norden and Malcolm 
Pirnie, both well-known engineers, put 
their knowledge and experience at Somer- 
vell's disposal. Richmond H. Shreve, 
whose firm, Shreve, Lamb & Harmon, 
had designed the Empire State and other 
large buildings, advised on architectural 
matters. Among others who served on a 
part-time basis were Earnest Boyce, pro- 
fessor of sanitary engineering at the Uni- 
versity of Kansas; John G. Eadie, mem- 
ber of Eadie, Freund and Campbell, 
consulting engineers of New York City; 
George B. Hills, an authority on the 
design of docks and terminals; Alfred L. 
Jaros, an expert on installation of me- 
chanical equipment; and Charles R. 
Velzy, works superintendent of the 

11 Groves Comments, VI, 2, 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 267 



Buffalo Sewer Authority. Engineers, 
architects, professors, and attorneys re- 
ceived anywhere from $17 to $100 per 
day plus expenses as consultants. By mid- 
1941 about two dozen were on the rolls. 96 

Hardly less notable than Somervell's 
own advisers were those of the Zone 
Constructing Quartermasters. Early in 
February each of the regional offices had 
an engineer, an architect, and a con- 
struction man — every one of them a 
leader in his field. Some, such as C. 
Herrick Hammond, past president of the 
American Institute of Architects, and 
Edward T. Foley, a director of the inter- 
nationally known firm of Foley Brothers, 
Inc., had reached the pinnacle of their 
professions. Of the twenty-seven new offi- 
cials, two came out of retirement; the 
rest left high-salaried positions, flourish- 
ing practices, and successful businesses 
to take jobs with the Quartermaster 
Corps. Their appointments climaxed a 
month-long drive by the ANMB Ad- 
visory Committee, the American Society 
of Civil Engineers, and the Associated 
General Contractors to sign up men for 
the zone offices. 97 

In his first months as Chief of Con- 
struction Somervell had made substantial 
progress toward a stronger organization. 
Nevertheless he still had some distance 
to go before the reorganized central office 
and the newly established zones were 
fully staffed and running smoothly. 

Transfer of Air Corps Construction 

The transfer of Air Corps construction 
in November 1940 lifted a sizable burden 

'* Incl, 1 6 Jun 41 , with Memo, Styer for Somer- 
vell, 17 Jun 41. Opns Br Files, Senate — Hearings, 
Complaints, Requests. 

,7 (i) Incl with Routing Slip, Holmes to Styer, 6 
Feb 41. (a) Memos, Styer for Somervell, 7 Jan 41. 
Both in Opns Br Files, Territorial Zones. 



from the shoulders of The Quartermaster 
General. By 30 March 1941, eighty-one 
Air Corps projects with a total estimated 
cost of S200 million had gone over to 
the Corps of Engineers. In January, at 
General DeWitt's urging, the Engineers 
assumed responsibility for all construction 
in Alaska, ground as well as air. Except 
for real estate and maintenance activities, 
the Engineers took over all work in con- 
nection with their new projects.* 8 While 
longtime Quartermaster construction 
officers deplored the loss of the airfields, 
Groves thought the change was advan- 
tageous. Some years later he recalled: 

I did not consider it unfortunate for the 
Quartermaster Corps at the time and I don't 
believe that General Gregory did either. 
Actually, I believed it was beneficial, as it 
reduced . . . [the Quartermaster Corps' ] 
overwhelming responsibilities. It also elimi- 
nated the difficulties encountered in dealing 
with the Buildings and Grounds Division of 
the Air Corps. This division always wished 
to interfere excessively in the details of con- 
struction." 

With the shift in responsibility, di- 
rection of the Air Corps program de- 
volved on Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Robins, 
Assistant Chief of Engineers. A man of 
mature ability and quiet manner, Robins 
had behind him thirty-six years as an 
Engineer officer. Since 1939 he had 
headed the Civil Works Division, OCE, 
which oversaw all Engineer construction 
except fortifications. In the fall of 1940 
Robins' organization consisted of four 
principal sections: Engineering, under 
William H. Mc Alpine; Finance and Ac- 

88 (1) Ltr, DeWitt to Moore, 16 Dec 40. (a) WD 
Ltr AG 600.12 (12-23-40) M-D, 7 Jan 41, sub: 
Constr Proj at Anchorage, Alaska. Both in AG 600. 1 a 
(11-19-40) Airfield Constr. (3) Millard W. Hansen, 
The Transfer of Air Corps Construction to the Corps 
of Engineers (MS), pp. 15 and 33. EHD Files. 

M Groves Comments, V, 3. 



268 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



\ 



4 

. \ 



ft 



General Robins 

counting, under Lt. Col. Earl E. Gesler; 
Miscellaneous Civil, under Maj. Mark 
M. Boatner, Jr.; and Construction, under 
Maj. John R. Hardin. Lt. Col. William 
F. Tom pkins was Robins' executive as- 
sistant. 



(Chart f) 



"Mr. Mac"TfcA 



A graduate of MIT, 
pine had been with the 
Engineers since 1902. Robins' officers, 
like their chief, were all West Point 
graduates who had spent their entire 
careers in the Corps, and most held ad- 
ditional degrees from top civilian engi- 
neering schools. Upon the assignment of 
emergency construction to his office, 
Robins made certain changes. He 
dropped the Civil Works designation. He 
set up a National Defense Projects 
Branch in the Construction Section and 
named Maj. Ewart G. Plank to head it. 
He appointed Maj. Henry F. Hannis 
liaison officer with the Air Corps. Both 
Plank and Hannis were West Pointers 
and both were graduates of Rensselaer 



Poly. In keeping with the Engineers' 
policy of decentralization, Robins and 
his assistants concerned themselves largely 
with matters of policy and administra- 
tion, leaving the main work of supervising 
and executing construction to the dis- 
tricts and divisions. 

In a letter to the Chief of the Air 
Corps on 4 December 1940, Colonel 
Tompkins described the Engineer De- 
partment and the way it operated. Cover- 
ing the entire continental United States 
and the insular possessions, the depart- 
ment consisted of twelve divisions and 
fifty districts. The divisions conformed 
geographically to major river basins; the 
districts to smaller natural watersheds. 
In contrast with the Quartermaster field, 
Engineer field officers had considerable 
authority. District and division engineers 
issued specifications for jobs costing up to 
Si 0,000 and 850,000, respectively. Dis- 
tricts advertised contracts amounting up 
to $50,000; divisions, contracts in any 
amount. "These Districts and Divisions," 
Tompkins wrote, "function as closely 
knit but self-contained units, all responsi- 
ble successively to a single administrative 
authority, namely the Chief of Engi- 
neers." Terming decentralization "a 
great feature in the strength of our organi- 
zation," Tompkins looked forward to 
effective co-operation between Engineer 
field officers and Air Corps station and 
area commanders. 100 

During the last week in November 
Tompkins met with Nurse to block out 
procedures for expediting the transfer. 
The two men established a system of 
priorities. Projects not yet started they 
labeled Priority One — to be transferred 
almost immediately. Projects involving 

100 Ltr, Tompkins to Brett, 4 Dec 40. 686 (Airfields) 
Part 1. 







$1 II ti ii 
Ii §1 ii II 

u 




270 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



permanent structures went into Priority 
Two — to be transferred within two weeks. 
Projects involving temporary construc- 
tion already under contract but not well 
advanced received Priority Three. Pro- 
jects involving temporary construction 
and those nearing completion were in 
Priority Four— last and least likely to be 
transferred. A partial listing made on 2 
December showed 14 jobs in the first 
priority, 35 in the second, 8 in the third, 
and 1 1 in the fourth. Tompkins set a 
target date of 1 January 1941 for com- 
pleting the operation. Nurse agreed to 
try to meet this deadline. 101 On 30 No- 
vember he instructed the CQM's con- 
cerned to work out details of the transfer 
with local Engineer districts. Urging full 
co-operation, Nurse directed: 

You will extend to the officer representing 
the Corps of Engineers every courtesy and 
will acquaint him fully with the details of 
the project concerned and give him every 
aid in establishing himself and acquiring 
responsibility for his new duties. Until such 
time as the transfer is effected you will vig- 
orously prosecute all work under your juris- 
diction and there will be no slowing or 
slacking up of the work. 102 

District engineers began almost at once 
to prepare for the changeover, surveying 
projects and setting dates for transferring 
them. 183 

A difficult problem remained. By late 
1940 General Schley was critically short 
of officers. Increases in Engineer troops, 



101 (1) Ibid. (2) Memo, Supply Div G-4 for Rey- 
bold, 27 Nov 40. G-4/32249. (3) Memo, Nurse for 
Tompkins, 2 Dec 40, and Incl. 686 (Airfields) Part 1. 

102 Ltr, Nurse to CQM's, 30 Nov 40. QM 600.! 
(Bowman Fid). 

105 ( 1 ) Ltr, Dist Engr Los Angeles to OGE, 6 Dec 
40. (2) 1st Ind, 7 Dec 40, on Ltr, North Atlantic Div 
to Dist Engr, Providence, R.I., 3 Dec 40. (3) OCE 
Memo (Finance 86) (Fid Pers 26), 9 Dec 40. All in 
686 (Airfields) Part 1. 



burgeoning demands for Engineers on 
general staffs and in training centers, 
and details of Engineers to other activities 
had strained the Corps' commissioned 
strength to the limit. In early December 
only 6 1 officers were on river and harbor 
duty, though a minimum of 124 was 
needed. Schley would need an additional 
120 for the Air Corps projects, and these 
he hoped to get through the transfer. 
Although Gregory readily agreed to re- 
assign civilian employees along with the 
projects they were working on, he was 
reluctant to release sorely needed officers. 
When Schley, in an initial request, asked 
for twelve Reservists— five Engineers, two 
Quartermasters, and five from other 
branches, Gregory turned over the Engi- 
neer Reservists but refused to give up 
the rest. It became his policy not to 
transfer officers. There seemed to be but 
one course Schley could follow. On 23 
December he directed the division engi- 
neers to look for qualified Reservists, able 
and willing to serve with the Corps. By 
summer, 1941, more than 150 Reserve 
officers were on active duty with the 
Engineer construction program. 104 

Beginning, on 27 November 1940, with 
the air base at Manchester, New Hamp- 
shire, Air Corps projects passed rapidly 
to Engineer control. By the end of the 
year, 53 had changed hands. Twenty 
more made the transition in January, 
one in February, and 7 in March. Along 
with these projects, Gregory turned over 
to the Engineers some 200 construction 
contracts and approximately $80 million. 
Roughly 20 jobs, some primarily housing 

104 (1 ) Incl with Ltr, Schley to EHD, 5 Sep 53. (2) 
Memo, G-i for OGE, 7 Dec 40. 210.3-1534. (3) 
Hansen, Transfer of AC Gonstr to CE, pp. 28, 31-32. 
(4) Annual Report Covering Military Activities of 
the Corps of Engineers for the Fiscal Year Ending 
June 30, 1941, p. 24. 



THE REORGANIZATION OF LATE 1940 



271 



projects and most near completion, con- 
tinued under the Quartermaster Corps. 
By 1 April 1941 the transfer was over and 
done with. 105 

During and after the changeover, the 
Corps of Engineers and the Quarter- 
master Corps maintained close liaison. 
Somervell placed the facilities of his office 
at General Robins' disposal. Sheafs of 
Quartermaster circulars, manuals, re- 
ports, and standard drawings and specifi- 
cations went to OCE for distribution to 
the field. Colonel Leavey's staff continued 
work on plans and layouts for Air Corps 
stations until May 1941, when the Engi- 
neers were able to dispense with this help. 
The Construction Advisory Committee 
opened its files to the Engineers and, upon 
request, recommended contractors for Air 
Corps projects. To simplify real estate 
transactions, General Gregory in the 
spring of 1 94 1 delegated his responsibility 
for negotiating leases and acquiring land 
at air bases to General Schley. Successful 
co-operation between the two Corps en- 
abled construction to go forward without 
disruption or delay. 106 This co-operation 
was due largely to the example set by 
Schley and Gregory. As Groves observed: 
"It was not so hard for Schley to be 
cooperative, as he was on the receiving 
end. Many men in Gregory's position 
would have been inclined to wash their 
hands of it all." 1OT 

During the winter of 1940-41 the Air 
Corps program expanded, as directives 
came out for sixteen big new projects 
and for dozens of additions to going ones. 

106 (1) Constr PR's, 30 Aug 41, p. 13; 2 Apr 41, p. 
44. (2) Data compiled by Control Sec Constr Div 
OQMG, 30 Sep 41, Status of AC Projects at Time of 
Transfer to the CE. EHD Files. 

10 * Hansen, Transfer of AC Constr to CE, pp. 32- 
37- 

10T Groves Second Draft Comments, VII, 6. 



Table 11 — Cost of Air Corps Projects 



Projects by Type 



Estimated Cost 



Total 3286, 674,000 

Tactical stations 3155 , 913 ,000 

Pilot schools 26,612,000 

Technical schools 28,577,000 

Air Corps depots 31,572,000 

Experimental depots 6,800,000 

Aircraft assembly plants 37,200,000 

Sourer: Ltr, OCE to BOB, 28 Mar 41. 686 (Airfields) Part 9. 



Largest of the new projects were four 
aircraft assembly plants authorized by 
the President in December and January. 
Designed to produce light and heavy 
bombers, these plants were to be at Fort 
Crook, Nebraska; Kansas City, Kansas; 
Tulsa, Oklahoma; and Fort Worth, 
Texas. Next in size were eight pilot train- 
ing schools to be in the South and South- 
west. Three stations for General Head- 
quarters, Air Force, and one for obser- 
vation units completed the list. 108 By i 
April Air Corps projects under Engineer 
direction had a total estimated cost of 



$286,674,000. m (Table 11) Together with 
the Atlantic bases, these Air Corps proj- 
ects represented almost one-third of the 
Army's construction program — from a 
monetary standpoint. But, as Groves em- 
phasized, owing to the simpler nature of 
airfield work, the Engineer program pre- 
sented nothing "like a third of the 
difficulties." 110 

108 (1) Elaine A. Nelson, The Construction of 
Aircraft Assembly Plants, World War II (MS), 1944, 
pp. 1-2. (2) OCE PR's, 28 Feb, 15 Nov 41, sub: 
Constr at AC Stations. EHD Files. 

1M Ltr, OCE to BOB, 28 Mar 41. 686 (Airfields) 
Part 9. 

110 Groves Comments, IX, I . 



272 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



On i April 1941 General Marshall 
reported to Stimson that the transfer had 
gone "smoothly." "The construction proj- 
ects which have been allocated to the 
Corps of Engineers," he went on to say, 
"are being actively and efficiently prose- 
cuted and are generally meeting the re- 
quirement dates. . . . The spread 
of the work between the two organiza- 
tions is resulting in closer supervision in 



Washington and more expert direction 
on the job by both agencies." 111 But while 
Marshall considered the arrangement 
practical, he could not regard it as final. 
Unless Congress acted beforehand, air- 
field construction would revert to the 
Quartermaster Corps on 1 July 1942. 



111 Memo, Marshall for Stimson, i Apr 41. G~ 
4/3 1 324- 



CHAPTER VIII 



Completing the Camps 



When Somervell succeeded Hartman 
in December 1940, he faced a stiff ordeal. 
Eight National Guard divisions and some 
eighty miscellaneous units were due for 
induction during January and February 
1 94 1. Five general hospitals were to open 
on 1 March. Twenty-one replacement 
training centers were to begin operation 
around 15 March. In all, more than 
sixty projects were due for completion 
before April 1941 This construction had 
to be accomplished on limited budgets, 
in the face of continuing shortages and 
changing requirements, and at a season 
of the year when outdoor building work 
throughout most of the country was 
normally suspended. War was moving 
closer. The situation did not permit fur- 
ther delay in getting troops into training. 

The Deficit Problem 

During December the question arose 
in the War Department whether economy 
or speed should govern construction. The 
growing construction deficit — $100 mil- 
lion on 2 December, $140 million five 
days later — was a source of official em- 
barrassment. Huge amounts were owing 
to contractors and materialmen. Money 

1 ( 1 ) Memo, Groves for Styer, 23 Dec 40. QM 
600.94 (1935 — ). (a) 1st Ind, ao Dec 40, on WD Ltr 
AG 600.12 (12-11-40) M-D-M to TQMG, 13 Dec 
40, sub: List Showing Location and Strength of 
Reception Centers. AG 653 Rec C No. a. (3) Incls 
with Memo, Styer for Somervell, 31 Dec 40. Opns 
Br Files, Induction Dates. 



to keep the program going would be hard 
to find. Large additional appropriations 
would be necessary, how large no one 
knew. Nor could anyone be certain how 
Congress and the public would react. 
Marshall, Stimson, and Roosevelt were 
frankly concerned. The situation gave 
rise to various proposals for saving money, 
including some for slowing construction. 

On 7 December, General Reybold sug- 
gested a common-sense approach to the 
problem of the deficit. Referring to the 
high cost of labor and materials and the 
inaccuracy of original estimates, he wrote 
to the Chief of Staff: 

The requirements for housing and caring 
for our large Army are considered generally 
modest . . . . It is not believed that 
these requirements may be decreased in order 
to reduce the deficit, nor will the world situa- 
tion permit a slowing of the program to re- 
duce cost or a delay to obtain more funds. 
It is believed that the program based on 
authorized requirements must proceed to 
a rapid conclusion irrespective of the deficit 
caused thereby. G-4 does believe, however, 
that every effort should be made, short of 
reduction of requirements and delay in the 
program, to prevent this deficiency from be- 
coming of undefendable size. 

Reybold went on to outline a course of 
action. First, he would ask the President 
for permission to incur a deficit of $150 
million; second, he would ask General 
Gregory to prevent the overrun from 
becoming any larger; and third, he would 
ask the using services to save construction 
funds by requesting only bare necessities, 



274 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



by using WPA, and by reviving "the 
American Army principle of extempor- 
izing facilities in the field." General 
Marshall agreed to try the plan.' 

Two days before he presented this 
proposal, Reybold agreed to a new sched- 
ule for housing the National Guard. Since 
late November he had been debating 
camp completion dates with Col. Harry 
L. Twaddle, the new Assistant Chief of 
Staff, G—3. By 1 December, the two men 
had agreed on induction dates for all 
Guard units except those slated for In- 
diantown Gap, Forrest, and Wood. In 
Reybold' s opinion the first of these three 
camps could not be finished until Febru- 
ary, the others not until April. Twaddle 
insisted that all be ready in January. 
The two men settled their differences on 

5 December. Next day they issued a new 
timetable: Camp Robinson in December; 
Camps Edwards, Claiborne, Shelby, and 
San Luis Obispo in January; and Camps 
Forrest, Meade, Blanding, and Indian- 
town Gap in February. With the excep- 
tion of Camp Leonard Wood, now listed 
for 1 April, the remaining projects in the 
original Guard program would be ready 
by the end of January. 8 Committed to 
the new schedule, Reybold wrote to 
Gregory, "It is vitally important that 
the accommodations be completed on the 
dates specified."* 

The postponement of induction dates 
led Inspector General Peterson to de- 
mand stricter economy. Unnecessary 
haste, he maintained, was costing the 

* Memo, Reybold for Marshall, 7 Dec 40, and 
concurrence thereon. 0—4/32243. 

s (0 G-4/31948. (a) WD Ltr AG 325 (12-5-40) 
M— C— M to All Army and Corps Area Commanders, 

6 Dec 40, sub: Induction Dates for NG Units, and 
Incl. 325.37 Part I. 

* Memo, Reybold for Gregory, 6 Dec 40, G— 
4/31948. 



Army millions. Reports from his in- 
spectors indicated that attempts to rush 
completion had inspired reckless spend- 
ing. Overtime, duplicate purchases, and 
"other costly procedures" were prevalent. 
Peterson proposed to put a stop to all this. 
Soon after learning of the new induction 
schedule, he wrote General Marshall, 
"This postponement . . . materi- 
ally increases the time available for com- 
pletion of the various construction proj- 
ects . . . and, in my opinion, 
should permit their completion in an 
orderly and economical manner." He 
went on to suggest that General Gregory 
be ordered to "eliminate all unnecessary 
expenditures." 6 

Peterson became the proponent of a 
new scheme for saving money. Twaddle 
had recently recommended that Guard 
units inducted after mid-February remain 
at peace strength until June. Selectees 
earmarked for these units would not go 
directly to the Guard camps as originally 
intended, but instead would receive thir- 
teen weeks of basic training at replace- 
ment training centers before joining the 
Guardsmen. This plan, if approved by 
the Chief of Staff, would affect three 
divisions and a number of separate regi- 
ments slated for Blanding, Dix, Indian- 
town Gap, Forrest, and Wood. While 
Marshall deliberated, Peterson discovered 
that these projects were working overtime 
in an effort to complete by March ac- 
commodations which, under Twaddle's 
plan, would not be fully occupied until 
June. The replacement training centers 
were also going full speed. The Inspector 
General warned Marshall that using ex- 
pensive methods to complete buildings 



•Memo, Peterson for Marshall, 13 Dec 40. G— 
4/31948. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



275 



which would stand vacant for several 
months could "only result in just and 
unfavorable criticism of the War De- 
partment." Anticipating Marshall's ap- 
proval of Twaddle's proposal, Peterson 
recommended that The Quartermaster 
General wait until spring to house se- 
lectees at Guard camps. 6 

G— 4 considered Peterson's plan ill- 
advised. Acting in Reybold's absence, 
Colonel Chamberlin commented on the 
scheme. To postpone construction for 
selectees, Chamberlin maintained, the 
Army would have to follow one of two 
courses. First, it could ask each contractor 
to complete a section of his camp large 
enough to house the peace-strength units. 
Guardsmen would take over the finished 
sections, with pairs of half-strength units 
occupying quarters intended eventually 
for single units at full strength. Then the 
contractor would complete the camp. 
When selectees arrived, each unit would 
jump to full strength and move to its 
permanent area. Second, the Army could 
ask a contractor to build throughout an 
entire camp, leaving out every other 
barracks, omitting parts of the hospital, 
and in general completing enough of the 
camp to enable peace-strength units to 
move into their permanent areas. Later 
on, the contractor could retrace his steps, 
putting in the buildings he had skipped 
before. Chamberlin opposed both courses. 
He said of the first: "This method would 
entirely defeat the principle of mobili- 
zation. Each unit when it comes in should 
be put in its own area so that it can 
organize that area ... to receive 
the additional men in orderly fashion"; 
and of the second: "Since the area would 



•Memo, Peterson for Marshall, 17 Dec 40. Opns 
Br Files, Insp Rpts. 



have to be gone back over again . . . 
it would probably cost more than the 
payment of overtime to complete the 
entire facility at one time." 7 

Colonel Groves, who carried major 
responsibility for the camp projects, was 
also against Peterson's proposal. He had 
already adopted some of the suggested 
methods to save time but doubted they 
could save money. Groves shared with 
civilian engineers the opinion "that it 
costs more money to bring troops into 
your camp before the camp is com- 
pleted." 8 Moreover, he contended, since 
premium pay was necessary to hold labor 
at defense jobs, any attempt to reduce 
costs by cutting overtime would deprive 
the projects of essential workers and thus 
delay construction for peace-strength 
units as well as for selectees. 9 General 
Moore soon joined Groves in opposing 
the Inspector's plan. 

On 19 December, in a memorandum 
for Marshall, Moore attacked Peterson's 
position, warning that the Army must 
focus on its objective — "the mobilization 
and training of our troops in the least 
practicable time." Noting that Congress 
had appropriated almost one billion 
dollars for expediting production of mu- 
nitions and airplanes, he stated: 

Under such circumstances I think we are 
justified in incurring additional expense in 
"expediting production" of shelter for troops 
in spite of "hell and high water" (particu- 
larly the latter), so that we may have a 
trained force ready at the earliest practicable 
date. . . . 

Although we may be subject to some 



7 Memo, Chamberlin for Moore, 18 Dec 40. 
G— 4/3 1 98 1 Sec 1. 

8 Testimony of W. C. Roberts, Proj Engr at Ft 
Meade, Md, 29 Apr 41. In Truman Comm Hearings, 
Part 2, p. 465. 

8 Memo, Chamberlin for Moore, 1 8 Dec 40. 



276 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



economy minded criticism for pushing con- 
struction at additional expense under ad- 
verse winter conditions, we would be subject 
to more justified criticism if we permit 
"logistical" financial considerations to govern 
under the present situation. 

Besides, he said, carrying out Peterson's 
plan would be difficult if not impossible. 
Agreeing with his deputy, Marshall pen- 
ciled "O.K., GCM" on Moore's memo- 
randum. 10 

Although Peterson's scheme fell 
through, it did serve to underline the 
necessity for thrift. On 20 December 
Somervell asked camp CQM's to justify 
their use of crash methods. 11 A short time 
later he felt called upon to defend con- 
tinued use of overtime at Indiantown 
Gap. "It will not be possible," he told 
Reybold, "to stop working overtime at 
present without seriously jeopardizing the 
work." 12 Hard pressed for funds, Somer- 
vell endorsed every means of reducing 
expenditures short of slowing inductions. 
He encouraged contractors to cut pay- 
rolls and to hold construction to es- 
sentials. He cut out unnecessary over- 
time. He substituted gravel roads for 
concrete and asphalt. He eliminated tie 
rods, exterior paint, floor seals, and skirt- 
ing from building plans. He postponed 
landscaping and fine grading. He denied 
requests for additional buildings. 13 In 
January he warned his branch chiefs: 
"Nothing aside from crookedness will 
subject this office to criticism as will 
exorbitant costs. Dementia dollaritis must 
be stamped out." 14 As long as the big 

10 Memo, Moore for Marshall, 19 Dec 40, and 
notation thereon. AG 600.1 a (1-23-36) Ser iE. 

11 Memo, Somervell for Marshall, ao Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Insp Rpts. 

11 Memo, Somervell for Reybold, 30 Dec 40. Opns 
Br Files, Indiantown Gap. 
11 Opns Br Files, Economy. 

M Memo, Somervell for Br Chiefs Constr Div, a 1 
Jan 41. Opns Br Files, Gen — 16 Dec 40-2 Jun 41. 



construction deficit remained, this atti- 
tude would prevail. 

Additional Funds 

Wiping out the deficit was high on 
Somervell's agenda. When he took over 
the Construction Division, the known 
deficit stood at about Si 50 million. This 
figure he suspected was too low. "I do 
not believe they can finish the camps for 
that," he told Reybold. "I am just a 
little worried about it .... I do 
not want to embarrass you and the Secre- 
tary by running up and saying we need 
more million dollars." 16 On 13 December 
he told architect-engineers to re-estimate, 
this time correcdy, the final costs of their 
projects. The result was startling. The 
new estimates indicated that approxi- 
mately $337 million would be necessary 
to complete the program. Somervell 
added $125 million for contingencies, 
putting the total deficit at $362 million. 16 
Having decided how much to ask, he 
prepared to make a strong bid for early 
passage of a deficiency appropriation. 

On 3 January he presented the bill to 
the Chief of Staff. Marshall was per- 
turbed. The Secretary, he explained, had 
understood that the deficit would be % 1 50 
million. "If he had that impression," said 
Somervell, "he was wrong. We can't 
build for any less than this sum. These 
estimates cannot be pared." Marshall 
interjected, "I understand that. What I 
want to do is to get the matter straight 
before the Budget." Stimson had already 



"Tel Conv, Somervell and Reybold, 18 Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Cp Wallace. 

11 (i)TWX, Gregory to CQM's, 13 Dec 40. Opns 
Br Files, Future Policies — Cp Constr, (2) Ltr, Groves 
to CQM's, 13 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Estimates. (3) 
Incl (31 Dec 40), with Memo, Harrison for Knudsen, 
3 Jan 41. Madigan Files, 10 1.4 Estimates — Costs. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



277 



requested the smaller sum. Should he ask 
for the balance now or later? After some 
discussion Marshall and Somervell de- 
cided to tell the "whole story." They 
would put in for 5362,000,000. "How- 
ever," the Chief of Staff remarked, "I 
am also concerned with the diplomatic 
way to handle this matter." 17 

The administration would have to be 
ready with an explanation. That much 
was generally agreed. But opinions dif- 
fered as to what the explanation ought 
to be. Hartman had wished to stress the 
reduction of his original estimate by 
General Moore, the lack of advance infor- 
mation about camp sites, and union de- 
mands for higher wages. Stimson wished 
to emphasize advancing materials and 
labor costs and the adversities of winter 
weather. Reybold attributed most of the 
increase to haste. 18 Somervell listed hastily 
prepared layouts, changes in plans, rising 
prices and wages, unskilled workmen, 
overtime, speed, and bad weather. 
"Then," he added, "some of the esti- 
mates were just plain dumb." 19 In the 
midst of all this conjecture, the President 
asked for an "honest-to-God" statement 
of the reasons for the overrun. 20 

A word from Roosevelt and the Con- 
struction, Division set to work. Picking 
up the telephone, Groves summoned to 
Washington contractors whose projects 
showed a deficit. Costs, he declared, had 
gone "sky high." 21 The size of the overrun 



"Min, Conf in OCofS, 3 Jan 41, attended by 
Marshall, Somervell, Reybold, and Col Haislip. 
G-4/32243. 

18 (1 ) 1st Ind, 2 Dec 40, on Ltr, TAGO to TQMG, 
1 6 Nov 40. (2 ) Ltr, Stimson to Roosevelt, 1 3 Dec 40. 
Both in QM 600.1 (Funds) IX. (3) WD Ltr AG 
600.12 (2-7-40) M-D-M, 16 Dec 40. 600.1 Part 8. 

" Min of Conf in OCofS, 3 Jan 41. 

M Memo, DCofS (Maj Gen William Bryden) for 
TQMG, 26 Dec 40. G—4/32243. 

11 Tel Conv, Groves and Mr. Meade, Ft Warren, 
Wyo., 28 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Ft Warren Corresp. 



seemed "inexcusable." 52 "But," he told 
one man, "we have to explain it and so 
does the President .... That's 
why we are so anxious to have this 
meeting and get our explanation as to 
just what can be said other than 'we are 
sorry to have spent more money than 
we have.' " 23 The conference took place 
on 29 December. A short time later the 
President had his answer. The "honest" 
statement gave three major causes for 
the overrun. It attributed 25 to 35 percent 
to increased costs of labor and materials, 
50 or 60 percent to additional require- 
ments, and 15 to 25 percent to changes in 
plans and underestimation of costs. These 
percentages were approximate. Precise 
figures were not yet available and, in- 
deed, might never be. 24 

A somewhat different appraisal came 
from Slaughter, Saville & Blackburn, 
Inc., of Richmond, an engineering firm 
hired by Somervell to make an inde- 
pendent study. On 30 December General 
Gregory wired Constructing Quarter- 
masters, asking them to forward plans, 
layouts, and cost data to the Virginia 
firm. 25 Forty-four fixed-fee and fifty-eight 
lump sum projects sent replies. This infor- 
mation formed the basis of a 66-page 
report submitted to Somervell on 13 
January. After comparing the original 
estimate with the actual costs of labor, 
materials, buildings, and utilities, and 
after analyzing an imposing array of 
figures, Slaughter, Saville & Blackburn 
concluded that "the reasons for the de- 
ficiency are speed of action in preparation 



** Tel Conv, Groves and L. E. Dixon, Los Angeles, 
Calif., 27 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, San Luis Obispo. 

**Tel Conv, Groves and Kier, Los Angeles, Calif., 
27 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, San Diego Corresp. 

"Memo, Reybold for Marshall, 15 Jan 41, and 
Incl, n.d. G—4/32243. 

" TWX, Gregory to CQM's, 30 Dec 40. 652 (Cp 
Croft) I. 



278 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



of the original estimates before sites were 
selected and the speed of construction 
required of the field forces." Costs of 
utilities and labor bulked large, but 
neither rises in prices nor changes in 
plans could account for a substantial 
portion of the deficit. 26 These findings 
did not go unchallenged. On discovering 
that many of the figures given the Rich- 
mond firm were "well-nigh valueless," 27 
Groves concluded that "the Slaughter, 
Saville & Blackburn report is based on 
uncertain data and hypotheses and that 
the figures it gives cannot be relied upon 
for comparative purposes— nor indeed for 
any other useful purposes." 28 Groves' 
criticism notwithstanding, Somervell be- 
lieved the report told "the general story" 
and drew heavily upon it in defending 
the deficit. 29 

The day Slaughter, Saville & Black- 
burn submitted their report, Somervell 
appeared before the Budget to ask for 
approximately $535 million in construc- 
tion money. Over and above the $362 
million, he wanted $32.6 million for 
maintenance and repairs and something 
in the neighborhood of $140 million for 
land and for such additional items as 
chapels, ice plants, recreational facilities, 
repair shops, and access roads. Asked to 
guarantee that these funds would be suffi- 
cient, he refused. The Budget Director 
thereupon struck out the allowance for 
contingencies and cut the maintenance 
item by almost forty percent, and 



M Slaughter, Saville & Blackburn Rpt. 

17 Memo, Hadden for Groves, 30 Jan 41. Opns Br 
Files, Cp Robinson. 

18 Memo, Groves for Somervell, 3 1 Jan 41 . Opns 
Br Files, Cp Robinson. 

"Somervell's Testimony, 12 Feb 41. In H Sub- 
comm of the Coram on Appns, 77th Gong, 1st sess, 
Hearings on Fourth Supplemental National Defense Appro- 
priation Bill for 1941, p. ai. 



he reduced the deficiency fund to 
$338,880,000 and the fund for main- 
tenance to $19,835,000. The request to 
Congress would be some $36 million less 
than Somervell felt he required. 30 

The Budget Director promised the 
money for 1 March. The question was 
whether the Construction Division could 
keep going until then. Ten days before 
the Budget hearing, at his conference 
with General Marshall, Somervell had 
estimated that funds on hand would last 
until the end of January. He now prom- 
ised to hold out one month longer. While 
Somervell was making this commitment, 
Groves, who was also present, grew "very 
uncomfortable." 31 He later told a mem- 
ber of the Budget staff: "I was signalling 
frantically. If you'd watched me up there, 
you'd have seen me shaking my head 
most vigorously when General Somervell 
was agreeing to March 1." It appeared 
to Groves that appropriations for con- 
struction would again be too little and 
too late. 34 

By early February the known deficit 
for troop projects had climbed beyond 
the $360 million mark. Architect-engi- 
neers were admitting that their previous 
calculations had been optimistic. Bland- 
ing, Forrest, and Shelby showed a com- 
bined increase of $19 million over 
December estimates. As other projects 
swelled the total, Groves complained, 



10 (1) Tel Conv, Col Kobb and Col Groves, 14 
Jan 41. Opns Br Files, Cp Robinson, (a) Opns Br 
Files, Budget. (3) Memo, NDAC, J. V. Dunn for 
Harrison, 15 Jan 41, and Incl, 13 Jan 41. WPB-PD 
File, 411.33 Const Proj — Mil, Jun 40-41. (4) H 
Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 77th Cong, 1st 
sess, Hearings on the Fourth Supplemental National 
Defense Appropriation Bill for 1941, p. a. 

31 Tel Conv, Groves and Col Waite, BOB, ao Feb 
41. Opns Br Files, Budget. 

M Tel Conv, Groves and Col Clarke, BOB, 4 Apr 
41. Opns Br Files, Budget. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



279 



"These engineers are fine engineers, I 
must say. The thing that makes me so 
mad is that . . . the estimate of De- 
cember 15 was just a joke, apparently, 
to them." 33 While he shared Groves' dis- 
satisfaction, Somervell hoped to turn the 
new estimates to advantage. On 1 1 Feb- 
ruary, the day before Congress began 
hearings on the fourth supplemental ap- 
propriation bill, he asked for restoration 
of the contingency fund, arguing that the 
money was needed at once. 34 His 
eleventh-hour appeal failed. The War 
Department would defend a deficit of 
$338,880,000. 

Hearings before the Subcommittee on 
Deficiencies of the House Appropriations 
Committee began on the morning of 12 
February, with a company of distin- 
guished officers on hand, among them 
Marshall and Gregory. The spotlight 
centered, however, on the chief of the 
Construction Division. Somervell, who 
had but two weeks before exchanged the 
oak leaves of a lieutenant colonel for a 
brigadier general's stars, was the principal 
witness. He presented the case expertly. 
His detailed explanation of the overrun 
seemed frank and reasonable. His replies 
to leading questions were at once adroit 
and witty. The subcommittee agreed to 
the request turned in by the Bureau of 
the Budget. But, although Somervell 
twice introduced the subject, he could 
not persuade the group to add $25 million 
for contingencies. 34 The committee bill, 



M Tel Conv, Groves and Harrison, 1 1 Feb 41 . Opns 
Br Files, Budget. 

14 Memo, OQ.MG for Moore, 1 1 Feb 41 . 600. 1 
Part 8. 

35 H Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 77th 
Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on the Fourth Supplemental 
National Defense Appropriation Bill for igfi, pp. 1-126, 
passim. 



which the House passed on 27 February, 
was something of a disappointment. 

Not until 3 March did the bill come 
before the Senate Subcommittee. This 
time Somervell had little opportunity to 
express his views. Having read the lengthy 
testimony taken by the House group, the 
Senators did not wish to have the deficit 
explained again. They were less con- 
cerned with the reasons for the overrun 
than with the failure to foresee it. "I am 
not complaining so much about the ex- 
penditure of funds," one committee mem- 
ber said, "and I do not think that Con- 
gress is. We have all become calloused 
to that, . . but it is rather amaz- 
ing that the original estimates could have 
varied as much as the amount that was 
really necessary to complete the jobs." 36 
"In our usual search for economy," 
General Moore testified, "the original 
estimates were made dangerously low 
. There was some argument 
about it, but I kept it low with the hope 
that . . . the quartermaster and 
people in the field would be able to 
observe economies, but my hopes were 
dashed to the ground." 37 Somervell, who 
knew the latest estimate was likewise 
founded on false hopes, had no chance 
to say so. Most of the Senators' queries 
were directed to General Moore. Somer- 
vell found himself confined largely to 
routine subjects. On 6 March the Com- 
mittee on Appropriations reported the 
Army sections of the bill favorably and 
without change. The measure passed the 
Senate on 10 March and on the 17th 
the President signed it.* 8 



" S Subcomm of the Comm on Appns, 77th Cong, 
1st sess, Hearings on H R 361 7, p. 10. 
p. 5. 

Ibid., pp. 1-30, passim. (2) 87 Cong. Rec. 
2is8. (3) 55 Stat. 34. 



280 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



The appropriation eased but did not 
end the Construction Division's financial 
troubles. Final solution of the budgetary 
problem came only after completion of 
the projects. 

Winter Construction 

To those engaged in camp construc- 
tion — contractors, engineers, and work- 
men — the winter of 1940-41 was a time 
of unusual challenges and strenuous 
effort. It was a time of mud, high winds, 
frozen ground, and stalled equipment; of 
urgent demands, unremitting pressure, 
long hours of work, and increased per- 
sonal hazards. It was also a period of 
changing schedules, critical shortages, 
and maddening delays. Few construction 
men had experienced anything like it 
before. One engineer declared, "There 
is no work in the world as hard as build- 
ing a cantonment under the conditions 
imposed."' 9 But if the difficulties were 
great, great too was the accomplishment. 
During the winter months, the camp 
projects were virtually completed. 

At the center of the effort to complete 
the camps was the Operations Branch. 



(Chart 8) The December reorganization 
had augmented both its duties and its 
staff. Among the persons assigned to 
Colonel Groves at that time were Vio- 
lante's top assistants, including Winnie 
W. Cox, an able administrator who had 
been with the division since World War I, 
Maj. Orville E. Davis, Capt. William A. 
Davis, Capt. Donald Antes, Creedon, and 
Kirkpatrick. While Groves relied heavily 
upon such stalwarts as these, he strength- 
ened his organization by bringing in more 



"Roberts' Testimony, 39 Apr 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part a, p. 457. 



officers. Recalled to duty as a lieutenant 
colonel, former CE Regular Thomas 
F. Farrell gave up his post as chief engi- 
neer of the New York Department of 
Public Works to become Groves' exec- 
utive. Lt. Col. Garrison H. Davidson, 
CE, became Groves' special assistant. 
George F. Lewis, formerly an Engineer 
lieutenant colonel, took charge of Repairs 
and Utilities. Four of the Quartermaster's 
West Point careerists also joined Groves' 
team; Maj. Kester L. Hastings, Capt. 
Clarence Renshaw, Capt. Howard H. 
Reed, and Capt. Carl M. Sciple. With 
these four, plus Lewis, Davidson, Kirk- 
patrick, W. A. Davis, and Groves him- 
self, the branch now had nine Academy 
graduates. To fill longstanding needs, 
Groves created two new sections. The 
first, headed by Lloyd A. Blanchard, 
inaugurated a program of accident pre- 
vention; the second, under George E. 
Huy, maintained a uniform system of 
cost accounting. The improved organi- 
zation enabled Groves to give the pro- 
gram better direction and to help the 
field surmount numerous obstacles. 

The winter of 1940-41 was unusually 
severe. Contrary to the hopes of con- 
struction men it began early. While Sep- 
tember and October had been ab- 
normally dry in most parts of the country, 
November rainfall was above average in 
thirty-two states. Bad weather set in 
around Thanksgiving. Cloudbursts hit 
camps in Texas and Arkansas late in 
November. During the next month steady 
rains settled over the states along the 
lower Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. 
Meanwhile, in New England frosts were 
occurring nightly. Soon the ground began 
to freeze, and by Christmas northern 
camps were blanketed with snow. Across 
the continent, California was experienc- 




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282 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



ing the wettest December in living mem- 
ory. The new year brought no improve- 
ment. During January and February 
storms swept the West, South, and Mid- 
west. In the North freezing temperatures 
prevailed and blizzards raged. Old-timers 
avowed that this was the worst winter 
in many years. Official statistics con- 
firmed their view. Baton Rouge recorded 
"its worst rainy season in ten years;" 40 
Los Angeles, its "heaviest and most con- 
tinuous rainfall ... in forty-three 
years;" 41 Topeka, the wettest winter "in 
the history of the Weather Bureau." 42 

This weather was extremely unfavor- 
able to construction. In the South, where 
a majority of the camps were located, 
rains turned unfinished projects into seas 
of mud. Serious floods occurred at Wal- 
lace, Hulen, and Shelby. 43 This story was 
repeated in the West and Midwest. At 
one point high waters threatened key 
projects in California and Missouri. On 
27 December the contractor at San Luis 
Obispo telephoned Groves: "We are com- 
pletely flooded out here. . . . We 
have had a whole season's rainfall in 
about ten days. . . . It is still rain- 
ing." 44 That same day one of Groves' 
inspectors reported that prolonged rains 
at Camp Leonard Wood had made field 
work "hazardous and in some cases im- 

'•Compl Rpt, Cp Livingston, II, 155. Copy in 
EHD Files. 

41 Tclg, Morrison-Knudsen Co., Inc., Paso Robles, 
Calif., to Somervell, 16 Jan 41. 600.914 (Cp Roberts) 
I. 

41 Ltr, Long-Manhattan- Watson, Ft Riley, Kans., 
to H Comm on Mil Affs, 31 May 41. Opns Br Files, 
Loose Papers. 

" ( 1 ) Memos, Peterson for Marshall, 5, 1 7 Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp. (2) Tel Conv, Reybold 
and CG Eighth Corps Area, 2 Dec 40. 0—4/31981. 
(3) Tel Conv, Frink with Groves and Somervell, 
16 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Cp Shelby. 

44 Tel Conv, Groves and Dixon, Los Angeles, 
Calif., 27 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, San LuU Obispo. 



possible." 45 Nowhere were conditions 
worse than in the North and East. There 
workmen battled snow, sleet, high winds, 
and subnormal temperatures. By the first 
of January the ground at Pine Camp, 
New York, had frozen to a depth of 
twenty-six inches. At Devens frost pene- 
trated to a depth of four feet. At Meade 
intermittent freezes and thaws harassed 
construction crews. 46 Few projects es- 
caped the crippling effects of inclement 
weather. 

The onset of winter found many jobs 
in the midst of paving and grading. Un- 
finished roads washed out at a number of 
locations. Traffic in wet weather ruined 
$200,000 worth of subgrade at Camp 
Bowie. Similar losses occurred at Robin- 
son, Claiborne, Livingston, and Wood. 47 
Roadbuilding was everywhere a tough 
and expensive job. Prolonged rains forced 
contractors to plow out mud with heavy 
equipment and to lay down huge quan- 
tities of rock and gravel. Where ther- 
mometers dropped below freezing, 
builders had to use heated concrete and 
early-strength cement and to protect 
freshly poured concrete for at least 
seventy-two hours with straw, tarpaulins, 
and salamanders. 

Winter was a period of low production. 
Bad weather cut deeply into construction 

45 Memo, Capt G. A. Rafferty for Groves, 27 
Dec 40. Q_M 333.1 (Ft L. Wood) 1941. 

4 » (1 ) Ltr, W. S. Lozier, Inc., to CQM Pine Cp, 5 
Jan 41. 65a (Pine Cp) Part 1. (a) H Comm on Mil 
Affs, Spec Subcomm a, Draft of Interim Rpt, Aug 41 , 
p. 10. EHD Files. (3) Ltr, Consolidated Engrg Co., 
Inc., to H Comm on Mil Affs, 39 May 41. Opns Br 
Files, Ft Meade. 

47 (1) Memo, Peterson for Marshall, 17 Dec 40, 
Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp. (2) Memo, FF Br Sec C 
for Groves, 26 Nov 40. 65a (Cp Robinson) Part 1. (3) 
Memo, Peterson for Marshall, g Dec 40. EHD Files. 
(4) Memo, Reybold for Marshall, 13 Dec 40. G- 
4/3r735- (5) Ltr, IGD to TIG, 6 Feb 41. Q_M 333.1 
(Ft L. Wood) 1 941. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 283 




Scene at Camp San Luis Obispo After Heavy Downpour, February 1941. 



time. Meade lost 30 out of a total of 
1 16 possible working days; Bowie, 38 out 
of a total of 150. At the Presidio of 
Monterey, operations were suspended on 
16 days within a 2-month span. During 
a single week in December, Camp 
Leonard Wood missed 4H days. 48 Oc- 
casionally, goldbricking prolonged lay- 
offs. Writing from Camp Davis, Major 
Davidson complained, "Local labor is so 
spoiled by their unaccustomed income 
that they not only lose the rainy days 



48 (1 ) Opns Br Files, Ft Meade, (2) Compl Rpt, Gp 
Bowie, p. 35. (3) Memo, Hastings for Robinson, 
15 Apr 41. Opns Br Files, Proj Behind Schedule. (4) 
Testimony of E. W. Dunn, 8 May 41. In Truman 
Gomm Hearings, Part a, p. 662. 



but also the following day when they 
steer clear of the job until the ground 
dries out." 49 Somervell gave another view 
of labor's performance during this period: 

I went to Devens, Edwards, Pine Camp, 
Madison Barracks, and Fort Ontario, and 
the blizzard followed me all around, so that 
I had a good opportunity to see what was 
going on. It was below zero at Pine Camp 
and at Devens, and the men were out there 
trying to do their work, and they were doing 
it, but obviously at a very much reduced 
efficiency. 

I visited Fort Meade , during 

a moderate drizzle, where the mud was up 
to your knees, and where the workmen were 



19 Memo, Davidson for Groves, 1 8 Feb 41 . QM 
333- 1 ( G P Davis) Jul-Dec 41. 



284 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Pouring Concrete in Subzero Weather, Pine Camp, New York 



trying to dig trenches, lay pipe, and things 
of that kind, which they were doing at, I 
should say, about 25 percent efficiency. 50 

Increased cost was a corollary of 
lowered efficiency. To make up for lost 
time, projects worked long hours and 
double shifts. The contractor at San Luis 
Obispo operated 1 o hours, 5 days a week, 
and 8 hours on Saturdays during the 
winter months, thereby adding $600,000 
to the cost of his camp. Overtime and 
multiple shifts increased the payroll at 
Camp Leonard Wood by $1,839,690 be- 
tween December and April. Coupled 
with the expense of sheltering men and 



80 Somervell's Testimony, 1 2 Feb 41 . In H Comm 
on Appns, Hearings on Fourth Supplemental National 
Defense Appropriation Bill for 1941, pp. 2 1-2 a. 



equipment from the elements, removing 
snow and mud, employing special tech- 
niques for cold weather construction, and 
replacing facilities damaged by storms, 
bills for overtime and shift work brought 
the cost of winter operations to a sizable 
total. Bad weather increased project costs 
an average of 10 percent. Of thirty-four 
contractors questioned by a congres- 
sional committee, all but one reported 
that costs had risen sharply as a result 
of winter conditions. 41 



M (1 ) Ltr, GQM Cp San Luis Obispo to TQMG, 
19 Feb 41. 600.94 (Cp San Luis Obispo), (a) IncI 
with Ltr, Alvord, Burdick & Howson to CQM Ft L. 
Wood, 10 Apr 41. 600.94 (Ft L. Wood). (3) Memo, 
Boeckh for Casey, 19 Jul 41. QM 65a (Canton 
Constr) 1 941. (4) H Comm on Mil Affs, Sp Sub- 
comm 2, Draft of Interim Rpt, Aug 41, p. 10. EHD 
Files. 



COMPLETING THE GAMPS 



285 



As costs rose, contractors came under 
increasing financial strain. More money 
was being paid out and less was coming 
in. Slow to begin with, reimbursements 
lagged further and further behind as ap- 
propriated funds dwindled. By February 
1 94 1 contractors had more than $325 
million tied up in Quartermaster projects. 
Groves tried by various means to ease 
their distress. He became adept at "trad- 
ing dollars," transferring money from 
projects which had funds to projects 
which were short. He put more pressure 
on the field auditors, urging them to 
speed up reimbursements and place avail- 
able funds in contractors' hands as soon 
as possible. Lasdy, he arranged for con- 
tractors to tap additional sources of capi- 
tal. Under the Act of October 9, 1940, 
claims against the United States could 
be assigned to private financial insti- 
tutions. By invoking this law, Groves 
helped a number of contractors to bor- 
row. Among the first concerns to do so 
was Starrett Brothers and Eken, which 
obtained a loan of $915,000 by assigning 
the Blanding contract to the Manufac- 
turers Trust Company of New York in 
late December. Other firms followed 
suit. 62 The situation could not go on 
indefinitely. By early March Groves and 
the contractors had reached the end of 
their financial tether. On the 4th Reybold 
notified Gregory that he could go ahead 
with construction "even though funds 



M Data prepared by Constr Div, c. Apr 41 , sub : 
Delays in Payments and Reimbursements. Opns Br 
Files, Questions and Answers by CAC, etc. (2) Tel 
Conv, Groves and Col Waite, BOB, 18 Mar 41. Opns 
Br Files, Budget. (3) Groves Comments, V,5. (4) 54 
Stat. 1029. (5) Agreement of Starrett Brothers and 
Eken and Manufacturers Trust Co., 30 Dec 40, and 
related docs. In Compl Rpt, Cp Blanding. (6) Ltr, 
OQMG to CQM Ft Riley, 3 Feb 41. 65a (Cp Riley) 



may not be on hand." 53 Deficit spend- 
ing could continue until money from the 
new supplemental appropriation became 
available late in March. 

Shortages of materials and installed 
equipment drew more complaints from 
contractors than weather and money. 
During the third week in January short- 
ages were listed as delaying factors by 
45 percent of the projects; the weather, 
by 28 percent; and lack of funds, by only 
2 percent. Progress reports submitted on 
7 February showed 42 percent held up 
for lack of supplies and equipment as 
against 22 percent for weather and less 
than 4 percent for funds. Both contractors 
and CQM's consistently named scarcity 
of critical items as the leading cause of 
delay. 64 Somervell was skeptical of these 
reports. "I am wondering," he confided 
to Groves, "how much of this alleged 
shortage is real and how much of it is 
an alibi of the contractors for not getting 
on with the work." 56 No doubt there was 
some exaggeration. Nonetheless, some 
shortages were truly desperate. On 7 
March the contractor at Camp Wallace 
appealed to his CQM: 

We are now short of lumber with which to 
complete the project. We, today, will have to 
lay off two hundred carpenters. This lum- 
ber was purchased by the War Depart- 
ment . . . and has been dribbling in 
promiscuously without any regard to our 
requirements. Today, we have structures 
standing with [out] roof sheathing, others 
without siding, and [on] others we have 
nothing but the foundation sills, and on still 
others we have the foundation sills and first 



53 Reybold's penciled note on Memo, Chamberlin 
for Reybold, 4 Mar 41. 6—4/30552-4 Sec 2. 

64 (1) Memos, Robinson for Somervell, 5, 18 Feb 
41 . Opns Br Files, Proj Behind Schedule. (2) Opns Br 
Files, Delays. 

" Memo, Somervell for Groves, 29 Jan 41 . Opns Br 
Files, Proj Behind Schedule. 



286 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



floor joists. We have to rob materials from one 
building to do something with another, and 
it makes the progress very slow and costly. 86 

Items reportedly in short supply fell 
into three classes: those purchased by 
Major Wilson's Procurement and Expe- 
diting Section, those purchased by The 
Surgeon General, and those purchased 
locally by contractors. Included in the 
first category were lumber, millwork, 
boilers, furnaces, and equipment for 
kitchens and laundries. Hospital equip- 
ment was in the second category; sheet 
metal, structural steel, plumbing and 
electrical supplies, and hardware were 
in the third. An investigation ordered by 
Groves in February indicated which items 
were critically short and some of the 
reasons why. "With regard to lumber and 
millwork," the investigator stated, "the 
shortages are not critical at the present 
time, unless the contractor has delayed 
placing his orders through the Procure- 
ment and Expediting Branch until he 
has run out of these materials." The 
same was true of furnaces and boilers. 
The scarcity of kitchen equipment was 
nothing more than a lack of luxury items, 
such as puree mixers and potato peelers; 
all stations had received essential items, 
such as refrigerators and stoves. The de- 
mand for laundry equipment had ex- 
ceeded production, but deliveries were 
gradually coming through. The supply 
of hospital equipment was gravely in- 
adequate. The Surgeon General had 
promised to report on the situation but 
so far had not done so. Among items 
procured by contractors, serious shortages 
existed in structural steel, plumbing sup- 
plies, and electrical equipment. The re- 



"Ltr, Nathan Wohlfeld, Galveston, Tex., to 
CQM Cp Wallace, 7 Mar 41. 600.914 (Cp Wallace). 



port did not comment on reasons for 
these troubles. 57 

Contractors were feeling the effects of 
the priorities system. Established during 
the summer of 1940, this system was ad- 
ministered by NDAC until January 1941, 
when the newly established OPM took 
it over. The two agencies' procedures 
were essentially the same. Both estab- 
lished a Critical List of materials. ANMB 
issued priority ratings applicable to items 
on these lists. Preference ratings, issued 
by purchasing officers whose projects had 
priorities, governed the sequence in which 
suppliers filled orders. Although ANMB 
had considerable freedom of action, 
NDAC and OPM had final say on major 
questions of policy. From the beginning, 
military construction jobs rated low pri- 
orities, so low, in fact, as to be practically 
meaningless. Because some key construc- 
tion commodities, such as lumber, were 
not on the Critical List, and because 
shortages of listed items, such as steel, 
did not become acute until late 1940, 
camp contractors for a time were able 
to get along without priority assistance. 
But by early 1941 they were calling for 
help. Efforts during February to obtain 
higher priorities for camps met with little 
success. The best OPM would do was to 
grant an A-i-j priority, the same rating 
assigned to naval vessels scheduled for 
completion in several years. 58 Recalling 
OPM's action, Groves denounced "the 
viciousness of the priority system, par- 
ticularly with respect to the tremendous 

67 Memo, Opns Br Tempo Housing Sec for 
Hastings, 24 Feb 41. Opns Br Files, Proj Behind 
Schedule. 

68 ( 1 ) Smith, The Army and Economic Mobilization, 
pp. 507ff. (a) CPA, Industrial Mobilization for War, 
pp. 68, 91-92, 96. (3) Memo, Hastings for Wilson, 
14 Feb 41. 41 1.5 I. (4) Ltr, OPM to ANMB, 21 Feb 
41. 400.31 (Philippine Dept). 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



287 



disadvantages under which military con- 
struction had to operate." 59 To improve 
the situation would require a long, hard 
fight. 

Major Wilson in P&E gave the projects 
what help he could. He kept delivery 
schedules for centrally procured items 
under constant review and channeled 
shipments to neediest sites. In January 
he created an expediting unit to investi- 
gate each shortage reported from the 
field and to try to find a cure. In Febru- 
ary he established closer ties with the 
projects by placing a supply officer in 
each of the nine zones. Throughout the 
early months of 1941 he exerted steady 
pressure upon vendors to speed deliveries. 
Wilson achieved a better distribution of 
building supplies, but there was little or 
nothing he could do toward solving basic 
problems of production and priorities. 
As long as demand exceeded output and 
Quartermaster projects had no prior 
claim upon supplies, some contractors 
had to wait. 60 Not until the program 
neared completion did the percentage of 
projects delayed for want of materials 
and equipment show a marked decline. 
On 4 April Groves reported. "All re- 
quirements for critical items have been 
met by actual delivery, but minor articles 
cannot be delivered from the factories on 
time." 81 As late as 2 May orders for 
kitchen, heating, and hospital equipment 
and for structural steel and plumbing 
fixtures were still outstanding. 62 



M Groves Comments, V, 6. 

*• ( i ) Memos, Wilson for Groves, 27 Feb, 1 Mar 41 . 
Opns Br Files, Proj Behind Schedule, (a) Memo, 
Somervell for Nelson, 14 Jan 41. 411.1 II. (3) Ltr, 
Constr Div to ZGQM 6, 26 Mar 41 . QM 337 (ZCQM 
6) 1941. (4) Groves Comments, V, 5-6. 

11 Min, Constr Div Staff Mtg, 4 Apr 41 . EHD Files. 

*» Min, Constr Div Staff Mtg, 2 May 41. EHD 
Files. 



Shortages of skilled labor also ranked 
high among delaying factors. Thirteen 
percent of the projects needed additional 
craftsmen on 25 January. The figure 
stood at 1 1 percent on 7 February and 
at 10 percent two weeks later. 63 Among 
the trades most often listed as critical 
were plumbers, steamfitters, electricians, 
rod setters, and sheet metal workers. Al- 
though the Construction Division occa- 
sionally tried to alleviate these shortages 
by raising wage rates or authorizing over- 
time, it did so only in extreme cases. 
For the most part it left the problem to 
contractors and the unions. While re- 
minding contractors "that full responsi- 
bility for the employment and manage- 
ment of labor" 64 rested with them, the 
division notified the unions that they 
"must accept some responsibility for en- 
deavoring to man these jobs." 66 

Although they willingly took up the 
challenge, the unions were unable to 
satisfy demands for skilled workmen. Ap- 
praising their effort, one contractor said: 
"We have been trying to get additional 
men through the local unions. We get 
a few each day, but almost the same 
number leave the job." 66 Another re- 
ported that requests for 325 plumbers 
and steamfitters had brought only 172 
workmen to his project. A third protested 
that the union had certified 19 men as 
rod setters, although only 4 had any 



85 ( 1 ) Memo, Robinson for Somervell, 5 Feb 41 . 
Opns Br Files, Proj Behind Schedule. (2) Memos, 
Robinson for Somervell, 18 Feb, 5 Mar 41. Opns Br 
Files, Delays. 

M Memo, Labor Rel Sec for Chief Admin Br 
Constr Div, 13 Mar 41. OCE Rec Retirement, Labor 
Rel. 

"Tel Conv, Mitchell, Labor Rel Sec, and Lt 
Fuller, Atlanta, Ga., 13 Mar 41. OCE Legal Div 
Labor Rel Br Files, Lawson Gen Hospital. 

•* Ltr, Nathan Wohlfeld, Galveston, Tex., to CQM 
Cp Wallace, 7 Mar 41. 600.914 (Cp Wallace). 



288 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



experience in that trade. 67 Project after 
project echoed these complaints. Against 
the nationwide shortage the combined 
efforts of contractors and unions were 
of little avail. The program suffered 
throughout from a scarcity of skilled 
mechanics. 

Strikes also had adverse effects. Be- 
tween 17 March and 30 June 1941, the 
earliest period for which full information 
was available, twenty-two strikes oc- 
curred at troop projects. Twelve of these 
walkouts involved jurisdictional disputes 
and protests of various sorts; they ac- 
counted for a total of 366 man-days lost. 
The other ten, all involving wage dis- 
putes, accounted for a total of 9,230 
man-days lost. Man-days lost because of 
strikes were only a tiny fraction of total 
man-days at the projects. 68 Nevertheless, 
effects of work stoppages could not be 
measured solely by time lost. The report 
on a 2-day strike at Camp Davis early in 
March was revealing: 

Job operations were proceeding at full 
speed before the strike, and a high point of 
efficiency of operations had been reached. 
The strike killed the momentum of opera- 
tions, and efficiency had to be developed 
again through weeks of hard effort. The loss 
has been figured by comparison of percent- 
ages of progress during month of February 
with percentages of progress through month 
of March. That comparison shows that 7 
percent of progress was lost during March. 69 



47 (1) Ltr, CQM Ft Meade to Groves, ai Feb 41. 
OCE Legal Div Labor Rel Br Files, Ft Geo. G. 
Meade, (a) Ltr, OZGQM 7 to OQMG, 19 Mar 41. 
OCE Legal Div Labor Rel Br Files, Ft L. Wood. 

•»(z) OCE Legal Div Labor Rel Files, Work 
Stoppage Rpts, March 1941-45. (a) Brig. Gen. 
Brebon B. Somervell, "The Temporary Emergency 
Construction Program," The Constructor, July 1941, 
p. 108. 

Rpt, Constr Div, OQMG, 1941, sub: Analysis 
of Costs, Cp Davis. Opns Br Files, Cost Analysis of 
Bldgs. 



Production suffered less from strikes 
than from union restrictions on output 
and resistance to timesaving methods 
and machines. Union rules designed to 
spread work and maintain traditional 
methods were in force at many projects. 
Bricklayers continued their normal prac- 
tices of using only one hand and of be- 
ginning a new course only when the 
preceding course was complete. Plumbers 
refused to install made-to-order pipe, in- 
sisting that they do cutting and threading 
by hand at the site. Painters opposed 
use of spray guns; cement workers, use 
of finishing machines. Several crafts de- 
manded that skilled men perform un- 
skilled tasks. Although the Construction 
Division occasionally succeeded in having 
working rules suspended, restrictive prac- 
tices continued to prevail.™ 

Belated and oft-changed plans pre- 
sented an added handicap to constructors. 
According to the Fuller Company, tardy 
deliveries of specifications and layouts 
hindered the project at Fort Monmouth, 
New Jersey, from start to finish. Long- 
Manhattan-Watson gave "inadequate or 
delayed plans" as one reason for high 
costs and slow progress at Riley. Almost 
three months after work began at Devens, 
Coleman Brothers Corporation and John 
Bowen Company were still awaiting de- 
signs for several buildings. 71 Plans con- 

70 (1 ) Memo, Hastings for Groves, 24 Mar 41. QM 
333.1 Mar-Apr 1941. (a) Memo, Labor Rel Sec 
Admin Br for Groves, 19 Apr 41. QM 600.1 (Labor) 
(Gen). (3) 600.1 (Labor) for: Ft Custer, Ft Devens, 
Cp Forrest, Indiantown Gap, Ft Monmouth, Ft. 
Riley, Cp Roberts, Stark Gen Hosp, and Ft L. 
Wood. (4) Labor Rel Br Files for: Cp Barkeley, Ft 
Belvoir, and Cp Edwards. 

71 ( 1 ) Ltr, George A. Fuller Co. to H Comm on 
Mil Affs, 16 Jun 41. (a) Ltr, Long-Manhattan- 
Watson to H Comm on Mil Affs, 31 May 41. Both in 
Opns Br Files, Loose Papers. (3) Ltr, Coleman Bros, 
and Bowen Co. to Somervell, 8 Jan 41. 600.914 
(Ft Devens) Part 1. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



289 



tractors had received were under con- 
stant revision. So great was the confusion 
at Camp Leonard Wood, where plans 
were changing "all the time," that the 
exasperated architect-engineer predicted 
completion of the project "within about 
five years." 72 So frequent were changes in 
the layout at San Luis Obispo that the 
contractor "actually considered construc- 
ting the buildings on skids so that their lo- 
cation could be changed without delaying 
the work." 73 The difficulties increased in 
the weeks that followed. Interference by 
troop commanders grew as the time 
neared for occupying camps. Demands 
for cheaper designs intensified as the 
deficit rose. The Engineering Branch, un- 
able to cope with a mounting backlog of 
requests for new plans, fell further behind 
in its work, 74 

Most disconcerting to contractors was 
military control of building schedules. 
By January the old scheme of final com- 
pletion dates had all but disappeared. In 
its place was a system of "priority sched- 
ules" calling for completion in successive 
stages. The contractor who had originally 
agreed to turn over a finished camp on a 
given date now had to turn over housing 
for a few units at a time. At Camp 
Roberts, for example, instructions to be 
ready for 178 men on 1 January, 2,882 
on 15 February, 7,893 on 15 March, and 
5,179 on 15 June superseded the com- 
pletion date of 15 March. 75 Priorities 
reflected induction dates. When a com- 



71 Tel Conv, Maj Reed and Maj Townes, 27 Jan 
41. 63a (Ft L. Wood). 

" Compl Rpt, Cp San Luis Obispo, 26 Mar 42, p. 

8. 

"Min, Constr Div Staff Mtg, 28 Feb 41. Opns 
Br Files, Staff Mtgs-1941. 

" Tel Conv, Groves and Capt J. T. Smoody, CQM 
Nacimiento, Calif., 17 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Cp 
Roberts. 



mander determined the size, composition, 
and arrival dates of various units and 
designated the buildings each unit would 
occupy, he imposed a construction sched- 
ule on the contractor. Each time the 
commander changed his plans, he com- 
pelled the contractor to do likewise. 
Builders disliked this system because it 
denied them "the leeway that a con- 
tractor should have in order to prosecute 
and expedite a job placed under his 
care." 76 Contractors were not the only 
critics. "One item that has cost millions 
of dollars," Captain Renshaw told 
Groves, "has been the shifting of con- 
struction forces from area to area to meet 
the changing requirements of Command- 
ing Officers." Citing the case of a con- 
tractor ordered to rip equipment out of 
one group of barracks and install it 
in another group at the opposite end 
of the camp, Renshaw commented, 
"The change in flow of materials . . . 
created a confusion just as great as if the 
Ford Manufacturing Company tried to 
finish the last car on the production line 
first." 77 

Illustrative of the workings of the pri- 
orities system were events at Camp 
Meade, Maryland. Late in September, 
when Hartman awarded Consolidated 
Engineering of Baltimore a fixed-fee con- 
tract for a cantonment for the 29th Di- 
vision, he assigned the project a com- 
pletion date of 6 January 1941. Work 
began on 9 October. Adhering to ortho- 
dox methods, Consolidated divided the 
job into seven areas; appointed super- 
intendents, foremen, and pushers for each 
area; and scheduled the work so that 



7, Ltr, Nathan Wohlfeld, Galveston, Tex., to 
CO.M Cp Wallace, 7 Mar 41. 600.914 (Cp Wallace). 

71 Memo, Renshaw for Groves, 8 Mar 41. Opns 
Br Files, Economy. 



290 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



crews of excavators, foundation workers, 
carpenters, and so forth, would follow 
one another "in proper sequence and in 
proper rotation" from area to area. Since 
all of the seven areas would reach com- 
pletion within a short time of one another, 
this arrangement was consistent with the 
principle of final completion dates. The 
contractor ran the job along these lines 
for three weeks. Then, relaying orders 
from the General Staff, Hartman on 31 
October asked Consolidated to finish 
buildings for two battalions of tank and 
antitank troops by 1 1 November. In an 
effort to meet this date, the contractor 
pulled men off jobs in other parts of the 
camp and worked twenty-four hours a 
day, seven days a week. No sooner were 
these buildings completed than Hartman 
forwarded a second rush order, this one 
for facilities for the 30th Ordnance Com- 
pany. These directives were the first of 
twenty-five or thirty priority orders- 
some originating with the General Staff, 
some with the corps area commander, 
and some with the commanding general 
of the 29th Division — which disrupted 
Consolidated's plans. 78 

Noteworthy among the Meade pri- 
orities was one established late in No- 
vember by the General Staff. Issued 
shortly after the new corps area com- 
mander, Maj. Gen. Walter S. Grant, 
had predicted that the camp would not 
reach completion before March, this 
order stipulated that housing for 12,000 
men, the peace strength of the 29th Di- 
vision, would have to be ready by 8 
January. When he got this order, the 

" (1 ) WDGS, Constr Hist at Major Stations, U.S. 
Army, 1940-41, pp. 16-17. G-~4/3 2 439- ( 2 ) Memo, 
Peterson for Marshall, 16 Nov 40. 6-4/30063-47. 
(3) Testimony of John A. Stalfort, President, Con- 
solidated Engrg Co., ag Apr 41. In Truman Comm 
Hearings, Part 2, pp. 495-96. 



contractor hurriedly reorganized the job, 
concentrating his forces in half the build- 
ing areas and discontinuing work in the 
other half. 79 This approach, though sound 
from the constructor's point of view, was 
militarily undesirable. Around 15 De- 
cember, Maj. Gen. Milton A. Reckord, 
the commander of the 29th, asked that 
construction "be so arranged that each 
regiment could go into its own area when 
it arrived from home station." 90 General 
Grant made a similar request. 81 Agreeing 
that the commanders were "entirely justi- 
fied for use considerations," Groves issued 
the necessary instructions. The contractor 
reorganized the job again. Part of the 
construction force moved back to lo- 
cations deserted a few weeks earlier, 
abandoning partially finished buildings 
and starting new ones. Work now focused 
on half the buildings in all the areas 
rather than on all the buildings in half 
the areas. With these changes, hopes of 
meeting the 8 January date collapsed. A 
few days after Christmas, Groves pushed 
the deadline back to 3 February. 82 

Throughout January the contractor 
worked furiously. The project again 
adopted a 7-day week. No effort was 
spared. On the 23d, the project received 
a severe blow — the project engineer, the 
spark plug of the job, died in an auto- 
mobile accident. By the first of February 



n Testimony of John A. Stalfort, Maj Gen Milton 
A. Reckord, Col Henry L. Flynn, Third Corps Area, 
and W. C. Roberts, Proj Engr, Ft Meade, Md., 39 
and 30 Apr and 5 May 1941. In Truman Comm 
Hearings, Part 1, pp. 466, 496, 542, 564, 574. 

80 Gen Reckord's Testimony, 5 May 41 . In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 2, p. 574. 

81 Ltr, CQM Ft Meade to OQMG, 30 Dec 40. 
600.1 (Ft Meade) (Labor) I. 

M (i) Groves Comments, V, 8. (2) Testimony of 
W. C. Roberts, John A. Stalfort, and Gen Grant, 
29 Apr, 5 May 41. In Truman Comm Hearings, Part 
3, pp. 467, 49M7, 578. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



291 



considerable work remained on the ar- 
tillery area and the station hospital. In- 
ducted on 3 February the men of the 
29th Division remained at home stations 
for fifteen days, instead of the usual ten. 
Not until there was steam in the hospital 
boiler did General Reckord order his 
men into camp. Meade was completed 
some months later at a cost of more than 
$21 million. Among factors affecting its 
cost and progress were the site, the layout, 
bad weather, labor troubles, and the loss 
of the project engineer. Nevertheless, both 
the architect-engineer and the Construct- 
ing Quartermaster placed particular em- 
phasis on priority scheduling. 83 Reviewing 
his experience at the project, W. C. 
Roberts of the Greiner Company offered 
the Army this advice: 

In order to hold a contractor for the 
economy in that particular respect [building 
construction], he should be allowed to build 
his cantonment without interruption during 
the construction period. In other words, he 
should be held responsible for finishing all 
of his buildings in the whole camp by just 
one date, and he shouldn't, to obtain that 
ultimate economy, be held responsible for 
finishing various portions of the regimental 
areas prior to the general completion of the 
whole camp. 84 

In view of the military situation, such a 
procedure would, of course, have been 
impossible. 

Despite heroic efforts by contractors, 
the program made faltering progress. 



Ltr, Consolidated Engrg Co., inc., to H 
Comm on Mil Affairs, Sp Gomm 2,29 May 41 . Opns 
Br Files, Ft Meade. (2) Testimony of W. G. Roberts, 
Col H. L. Flynn, Gen. Reckord, and Maj Noxon, 29 
Apr, 5 May 1941. In Truman Comm Hearings, Part 
a, PP. 456. 5 6&-6 7. 575. 53°- (3) Reckord Interv, 
25 Nov 58. (4) Truman Comm Rpt 480, Part 2, p. 
4a, app. X. 

M Roberts' Testimony, 29 Apr 41. In Truman 
Comm Hearings, Part 2, p. 465. 



Again and again Somervell had to play 
for time. The Surgeon General eased the 
pinch by extending hospital deadlines 
and G— 3 relaxed the schedules for oc- 
cupying replacement centers. But the 
Guard camps posed a tougher problem. 
Late in 1 940 the General Staff had agreed 
to call no Guard units until Colonel 
Groves had set dates for housing them. 
But calls to the Guard had to go out 
forty days in advance. With the uncer- 
tainty of winter operations, no one could 
possibly predict so far ahead how much 
construction would be in place on a 
given date. Groves wrung a small con- 
cession from G—3, a promise to hold 
newly inducted Guardsmen at home sta- 
tions for fourteen days instead of the 
usual ten. But two weeks' grace on con- 
struction deadlines was seldom enough. 
Time after time the General Staff had to 
cancel orders calling units to active duty. 
Each cancellation further disrupted 
mobilization and inconvenienced Guards- 
men waiting to begin their training. 86 

The plight of the Guardsmen attracted 
wide notice. These men had arranged 
their affairs with the original dates in 
mind. Some had resigned from their jobs. 
Others had trained substitutes to do their 
work. Lawyers and physicians had turned 
their practices over to civilian colleagues. 
Households had been broken up, homes 
sublet, and dependents provided for. 
Postponements worked appreciable hard- 
ship on the men and their families. Guard 



86 ( 1 ) Memo, Hastings for Groves, 26 Feb 41 . 
Opns Br Files,Grnd Tp Sec. (2) Data prepared in 
Constr Div OQMG, 1 Mar 41, Projs to Be Watched. 
Opns Br Files, Data for Hearings on Deficiency Bill, 
1941. (3) Memo, SGO for G-4, 14 Feb 41. G- 
4/29135-9. (4) DS, G-4 to TAG, 29 Jan 41. G- 
4/31981 Sec 11. (5) G-4/31948. (6) WD Ltr AG 
680.1 (1-21-41) M-C to CG Sixth Corps Area, 
25 Jan 41. 325.37 Part 1. 



292 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 




Camp Blanding, Florida, Late November 1940 



officers, public officials, and others pro- 
tested the delay. Some advocated calling 
the men immediately and quartering 
them in public buildings until camps were 
ready. 86 In the face of mounting pressure 
for early inductions Assistant Secretary 
Patterson stated, "I have resolved that, 
unless the international situation becomes 
acutely critical, I shall postpone induc- 
tion of National Guard units until the 
War Department is prepared to safe- 
guard the health and well-being of the 
members of such units through the pro- 
vision of adequate shelter and sanitary 
facilities." 87 Despite Patterson's deter- 
mined stand, agitation served to hasten 
the calling of the Guard. 

A number of camps were occupied 
prematurely. Units went to unfinished 

88 (i ) Telg, Sen Ernest W. Gibson (Vt.)to Stimson, 
7 Dec 40. G-4/31948. (2) Tel Conv, CG Ninth 
Corps Area and Reybold, 8 Jan 41. G-4/31948. 

* 7 Ltr, Patterson to Governor Culbert L. Olson, 
Sacramento, Calif., (9 Jan 41). G-4/31735 Sec 3. 



projects, where discomfort awaited them. 
At Shelby troops quartered in undrained 
areas had to wade through water to get 
to their tents. At Barkeley there were not 
enough latrines. At Blanding the men 
of the 31st Division underwent a painful 
ordeal. 88 Representative Joe Starnes, an 
officer of this division, gave a firsthand 
account of conditions at the Florida 
camp: "A regiment of 1,815 men was 
moved in with not a single kitchen, 
latrine, or bathhouse available. This oc- 
curred in December in a pouring rain 
and conditions were such that it was im- 
possible to use the straddle latrine. Only 
the grace of Almighty God prevented an 
epidemic." 89 

99 (1) Tel Conv, Frink, Groves, and Somervell, 
16 Dec 40. Opns Br Files, Cp Shelby, (a) Min, 
Constr Div Staff Mtg, a 1 Feb 41 . EHD Files. (3) Ltr, 
Rep Joe Starnes to Frink, 7 Jan 41 . 632 (LaGarde Gen 
Hosp) I. 

•*H Subcomm of the Gomm on Appns, 77th 
Cong, 1st sess, Hearings on Military Establishment 
Appropriation Bill for 1942, Apr-May 41, p. 118. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



293 



Elsewhere epidemics did occur. Flu 
struck Fort Lewis early in December. 
From there it traveled down the Pacific 
Coast, across the Southern States, and 
up the east coast to New England. At 
many camps there were also outbreaks 
of measles. At one point San Luis Obispo 
reported 970 sick out of a total popu- 
lation of 1 1,500. At Lewis the sick rate 
for a time was more than 11 percent. 
Fortunately, the Army was prepared, 
having learned that flu epidemics go 
hand in hand with troop mobilizations 
and that newly inducted men who have 
not acquired immunity almost always 
come down with measles. Hospital beds 
were waiting for most of the sick. At 
camps where the number of cases ex- 
ceeded expectations, barracks had to 
serve as wards." 

The presence of troops hindered con- 
struction. Military traffic clogged roads 
to building sites, blocking the flow of 
supplies. Commanders drew labor from 
important jobs to make quarters more 
comfortable. Soldiers pilfered construc- 
tion materials and wrecked expensive 
equipment. Workmen, arriving in the 
morning to find that their supplies had 
vanished during the night, waited in en- 
forced idleness until replacements came 
in over congested roads. Under such 
circumstances disputes were bound to oc- 
cur. The Constructing Quartermaster at 
Bowie had a hard time stopping troops 
from carrying off black top to pave their 
company areas. Men of the 37th Division 



Notes of Conf, ODCofS, 10 Dec 40. OCS, 
Notes on Confs, Sep 26, 1940 — . (2) Ltr, Dunn and 
Hodgson to CQM Ft McClellan, 1 Feb 41. 652 (Ft 
McClellan) II. (3) Memo, Peterson for Marshall, 
30 Apr 41. QM 333.1 (San Luis Obispo) 1941. (4) 
Notes, Conf of ZCQM's, OQMG, 7-10 Apr 41, pp. 
81-82. EHD Files. 



became unruly when the CQM at Shelby 
tried to stop them from stealing five 
truckloads of materials. When soldiers 
altered unfinished buildings, this same 
CQM quarreled so bitterly with the di- 
vision commander that Groves sent Cap- 
tain Sciple to restore peace. Fresh ar- 
rivals usually brought fresh troubles. 
Colonel Styer tried to forestall shipment 
of troops to half-completed camps — but 
without much success. 91 

Once begun, movement of troops to 
construction projects continued. Between 
23 December and 5 March nine National 
Guard divisions entered federal service. 
The strength of the Army increased by 
about 1 00,000 during January, by about 
150,000 during February, and by nearly 
200,000 during March. By 1 April it had 
passed the 1 -million mark. 92 Meanwhile, 
construction went forward. In the midst 
of huge concentrations of troops builders 
pushed toward completion. 

The coming of spring enabled con- 
tractors to make a better showing. The 
number of projects on or ahead of sched- 
ule rose steadily. A few camps continued 
to lag but nevertheless met their troop 
arrival dates. 83 On 15 April 1941 Secre- 
tary Stimson declared: "The status of 
our construction is in such an advanced 



n (i) Memo, Peterson for Marshall, 10 Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Rpts of Insp. (2) TWX, CG Eighth 
Corps Area to TAG, 13 Dec 40. 652 (Cp Hulen) III. 
(3) Ltr, CQM Ft McClellan to TQMG, 2 Feb 41. 
652 (Ft McClellan) II. (4) Insp Rpt, Kirkpatrick for 
Gregory, 4 Apr 41. QM 333.1 (Cp Bowie) 1940. (5) 
Tel Conv, Capt Shepherd and Col Green, 1 7 Jan 
41. (6) Memo, Sciple for Groves, 19 Jan 41. Last 
two in Opns Br Files, Cp Shelby. (7) Memo, Styer 
for Moore, 24 Jan 41. Opns Br Files, Ft L. Wood. 

M Report of the Secretary of Wax . . . 1941, 
app., Chart 9, and app. B, Chart C. 

M (1 ) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40- Jul 41, 
p. 6. (2) Memo, Hastings for Robinson, 15 Apr 41. 
Opns Br Files, Proj Behind Schedule. (3) Min, 
Constr Div Staff Mtgs, 2 1 Mar, 2 May 41 . EHD Files. 



294 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Men of the 29th Division at Camp Meade, Maryland, May 1941. 



condition that we can confidently assure 
the country that all of the remaining men 
in our proposed military program will 
find their quarters awaiting them ready 
and completed for their occupancy." On 
the 2 2d General Marshall stated, "We 
have gotten over the hump." 94 Two days 
later Somervell announced, "The new 
Army is housed." 95 Remaining work went 
smoothly. Contractors made a fine record 
at replacement training centers, finishing 
all but one by mid-May. Of the 760 
buildings that comprised the nine general 
hospitals, 665 were ready for occupancy 
in June. By the end of the fiscal year the 
program had met its goals. 96 

The time and cost estimates made by 
the General Staff in the summer of 1 940 
had proved to be grossly erroneous. In- 

M Truman Comm Hearings, Part I, pp. 7, 169. 

* 5 WD Press Release, 24 Apr 41, sub: The Army Is 
Housed. Opns Br Files, Cp Bland ing Investigation 
and Misc. 

96 ( 1 ) Min, Constr Div Staff Mtg, 23 May 41 . EHD 
Files, (a) Patterson's Testimony, 15 Jul 41. In 
Truman Comm Hearings, Part 6, p. 1530. 



ability of construction forces to meet im- 
possible deadlines had made necessary 
substantial changes in plans for expand- 
ing the Army. Induction of Guardsmen 
and selectees for the Protective Mobili- 
zation Force was not complete until two 
to th ree mont hs after the time originally 
set. (Charts g an^[7o] The program had 
cost about double the figure initially 
given to Congress. Referring to the origi- 
nal camp completion dates, General 
Hastings later said: 

In the general concept of the time required 
to prepare, I don't think General Staff, or 
Congress, or the President himself realized 
the amount of time it takes to do things — 
to create the supplies, to build your facilities. 
They thought . . . , "A million men 
will spring into arms overnight." Months 
go into years to do these things. They always 
have and they always will. 97 

Commenting on the time and money that 
went into construction, General Cham- 



" Verbatim Rpt, Meeting with Gregory and 
Hastings. 



COMPLETING THE GAMPS 



295 




Barnes General Hospital, Vancouver, Washington 



berlin stated: 

Actually a phenomenal standard was set, 
one in which all Americans can glory. As 
far as wasting a few dollars was concerned, 
the construction effort cannot hold a candle 
to lease-lend, the Marshall Plan, or the 
Military Assistance Program. Had it not 
been for the courageous performance of those 
in charge of the War Department in the 
emergency, we might well have been de- 
feated, and how then would the expendi- 
ture of a few millions have loomed in the 
Jong-range picture. 98 

At the conclusion of the program, the 
Quartermaster Corps received congratu- 
lations. "Taken as a whole," Patterson 
said, "the job was well and speedily 



»■ Ltr, Gen Chamberlin to EHD, 29 Dec 55. EHD 
Files. 



accomplished." 99 Secretary Stimson 
stated, "I think I am speaking in meas- 
ured language when I say that in no 
country in the world, including our own, 
has its military forces ever before been 
provided for in so brief a time and upon 
so adequate a scale." 100 Speaking before 
the House of Representatives, Congress- 
man John W. Mc Cor mack declared, 
"The record of accomplishment during 
the six months that the present con- 
struction program has been in force is 
astounding in comparison with that of 
the 18 months of the World War period 
which has always been pointed to as 

" 15 Jul 41. In Truman Comm Hearings, Part 6, p. 

104 15 Apr 41. In Truman Comm Hearings, Part 1, 
p. 7. 



Chart 9— Rate of National Guard Inductions 
Scheduled and Actum, 



20 
18 

IS 

10 























1 

1 




, r 


J 




SCHEDU 


f - - 

i 
i 

.ED { 


ACT 


JAL ] 








i 
i 
i 
i 
i 




1 


r 
























1 
1 
1 

1 





OCT NOV 
1940 



DEC 



JAN 



FEB 

mi 



MAR 



(Dlndw/WDLtr AG32S (7-H-M) M-C-M, 30 J„1 40. tub: Induction of ccrtiin NG Unit* into the Fc-JetiI Service. G-4/ 
J1M8.R. & Memo. G-J WD far CfS, 14 Aug 40, . u b; Dtttrmi^tio,) of *d<tn cafe for F.Y. 1941 ... . CM/31 453-1 B. (3) Ind. w/Ltr 

^^m^z^**^* m ***'**' m ■■■■ — »»■— 



Chart 10— Rate of Selective Service Inductions 
Scheduled and Actual 



400,000 



300,000 



ioaooo 



100,000 









* 

/ 

s 












* 












* 


f 




f 






/ 


t- 













OCT NOV DEC 
1940 



JAN FEB MAR APR 

1941 



Wtf. (I) Mean, G-3 far ColS, 14 Aug 40, .ut>: Dttcfmm.boo of.ddp cwu for F.Y. 1941 ... . G-4/31455-18. (I) ASF, Mil Pa, 
Djv, Tkt /W«*flj t J Milto,, / &> WJ? to f /W5, Vol II, p. 41S. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



297 



bordering on the miraculous." 101 Praise 
was by no means universal. Nevertheless, 
the Construction Division could take 
pride in its achievement. 

Closing Out Contracts 

As troops began moving into camp, 
Somervell decided to get fixed-fee con- 
tractors off the jobs as soon as possible. 
To be sure, much work remained. Con- 
struction of chapels, theaters, field houses, 
and two or three other "extras" awaited 
funds. At many projects, painting, screen- 
ing, paving, and cleanup operations 
awaited warm weather. At several camps, 
large-scale undertakings were in the 
planning phase. There were strong argu- 
ments in favor of letting contractors finish 
the camps — their familiarity with the 
sites, their proved capability, and their 
seasoned organizations — but economy 
indicated another course. Overhead on 
fixed-fee work was averaging about 5.6 
percent as compared with 4.4 percent on 
lump sum and purchase and hire. 102 Part 
of this difference was no doubt due to 
the higher cost of administering fixed-fee 
contracts; part, to the higher price of 
first-rate management. Not only was 
overhead higher on fixed-fee jobs, but, 
many believed, construction itself cost 
more. With speed no longer a pressing 
concern, emergency contracts seemed un- 
necessary. On 1 March 1941 Somervell 
sent orders to the field: "It is essential 
that construction projects which are near- 
ing completion be promptly terminated at 
the earliest practicable date." Minor con- 
struction needed to complete the camps 

101 87 Cong. Rec. 2899. 

101 Memo, Cost Unit Opns Br for Groves, 1 Feb 
41, and Incl. Opns Br Files, Constr Costs and 
Authorizations. 



would be done by lump sum contract 
or by purchase and hire. 103 

As big construction jobs generally do, 
the fixed-fee projects tended to drag on. 
At camps nearing completion, Somervell 
noted an inclination on the part of 
CQM's, contractors, and architect-engi- 
neers "to continue their organizations at 
greater strength than necessary in antici- 
pation of the assignment of additional 
work." 104 "You could almost say it is a 
universal tendency," Groves observed. 
"I think it is a human trait." 105 Styer 
foresaw difficulty in terminating con- 
tracts "as long as there is any prospect 
of additional work because the architect- 
engineer, the contractor, and the CQM 
will all want to hold their organizations 
together." 106 With the aim of shutting 
off fixed-fee operations as soon as the 
main job was over, Somervell notified 
the field: "Neither rumors, requests by 
troop commanders for additional work, 
nor knowledge of future work still under 
consideration by the Washington office 
are any justification for delaying the 
prompt termination of existing con- 
tracts." 107 Going a step further, he 
adopted a system of cutoff dates. When 
authorized work was substantially com- 
plete, or when contractors reached con- 
venient stopping points, CQM's would 
issue letters of acceptance or stop orders 
to the contractors, giving them so much 
time to wind up operations. 108 On learn- 



101 OQMG Constr Div Ltr 123, 1 Mar 41. EHD 
Files. 
1M Ibid. 

I0 » Min, Conf of ZCQM's, 7-10 Apr 41 , p. 90. EHD 
Files. 

""Memo, Styer for Red, 18 Feb 41. Opns Br 
Files, Insp Rpts. 

107 OQMG Constr Div Ltr 123. 

108 OQMG Constr Div Ltr 182, 29 Mar 41. EHD 
Files. 



298 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



ing that Somervell intended "to really 
have a cutoff date at each one of these 
jobs," Harrison telephoned Groves: 
"That is the only way to handle it." 
Groves agreed. "I learned that years 
ago," he said, "after going to Boulder 
Dam and seeing that after three years 
the payroll was still 1500 men." 109 

Closing out fixed-fee jobs went more 
slowly than Somervell had hoped. At 45 
camp and general hospital projects near- 
ing completion in March 1 94 1 , there were 
85 fixed-fee architect-engineer and con- 
struction contracts. By 15 April all but 
seven of these contracts were still on the 
books. 110 Efforts to expedite the setting 
of cutoff dates intensified. In mid-April 
Somervell notified the zones: "I, of 
course, do not want the jobs closed out 
prematurely, but I do want them stopped 
as soon as you have reached a logical 
stopping place." 111 Early in May, when 
the number of closed-out contracts totaled 
twenty, he asked Groves to bear down 
on the field. 112 Groves put more pressure 
on the CQM's and told contractors 
frankly, "We just have to get you boys 
off our payrolls." 113 Knowing that many 
of the firms would soon be taking on 
new projects, he encouraged them to hold 
their organizations together, but not at 
the government's expense. He suggested 
instead a few weeks' vacation. The closing 
out operation gathered speed. Eighteen 
contracts ended in May; twenty-four, in 



109 Tel Gonv, Harrison and Groves, 5 Mar 41. 
Opns Br Files, Equip 1 . 

110 Rpt, Hastings for Leavey, 23 Jun 41 . OGE Legal 
Div Files, Contract Progress. 

111 Ltr, Somervell to ZCQM's, 15 Apr 41. 600.1 
(ZCQM t ) (Labor). 

Min, Constr Div Staff Mtg, 9 May 41 . EHD 
Files. 

113 Tel Conv, Groves and Wyatt C. Hedrick, Fort 
Worth, Tex., 7 Jun 41. Opns Br Files, A-E's. 



June; and eleven, in July. By late August 
fixed-fee contracts were still in force at 
only four projects. At Aberdeen, Polk, 
and Knox, the Army extended the orig- 
inal contracts to cover major additions. 
At San Luis Obispo the contractor stayed 
on to build a $3-million water supply 
system — a dam across the Salinas River, 
a pumping station, a mile-long tunnel, 
and a 12-mile pipeline to bring water 
through the mountains. 114 

To shut down projects and terminate 
contracts was no simple undertaking. 
There were many details involved : trans- 
ferring police forces, fire departments, 
and maintenance crews to post juris- 
diction; disposing of surplus materials, 
salvaging scrap, and clearing away 
debris; recapturing or releasing rented 
equipment; completing paperwork, 
bringing audits up to date, and clearing 
records of pending items such as un- 
claimed wages and unpaid bills; and 
lastly, reaching final settlements with con- 
tractors. While some of these were routine 
tasks, others proved troublesome. Re- 
curring false reports of buried nails and 
burned lumber needed refutation. Con- 
tractors' complaints that delays in the 
government's audit were preventing them 
from closing their books needed looking 
into. 115 Major problems arose in con- 



1U (0 Min, Conf of ZCQM's, 7-10 Apr 41, p. 91. 
EHD Files. (2) Rpt, Hastings for Leavey, ig Aug 41. 
OCE Legal Div Files, Contract Progress. (3) OCE 
Legal Div Files, Aberdeen Pr Grnd. (4) QM 65a for: 
Gp Polk and Ft Knox. (5) Compl Rpt, Cp San Luis 
Obispo-Salinas River Proj, p. 14B. 

116 ( 1 ) Opns Br Files, Questions and Answers, 
Truman Comm. (2) Memo, Unit B Temp Hous- 
ing Sec Opns Br for Hastings, 31 Mar 41. Opns 
Br Files, Delays. (3) Ltr, T. A. Loving and Co. 
to CQM Ft Bragg, 10 Jul 41. 652 (Ft Bragg) VI. (4) 
Min of Conf, OZCQM 7, 16 Sep 41. 652 (Ft L. 
Wood) Part 2. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



299 



Spillway Under Construction at Dam Site, Camp San Luis Obispo 
March 1941, 



nection with recapturing equipment and 
settling contractors' claims. 

Under its agreements with fixed-fee 
contractors and third-party renters, the 
government could recapture leased equip- 
ment when projects reached completion. 
As the program neared its end, the ques- 
tion arose — how much equipment to cap- 
ture. The nationwide shortage was still 
critical, and the recently approved lend- 
lease program promised to make it even 
worse. The Army needed large fleets of 
equipment to maintain newly built in- 
stallations and to equip Engineer con- 



struction units. WPA and CCC, both 
heavily engaged in defense work, were 
short of trucks and machinery. Here was 
an opportunity not only to get the needed 
items but to get them cheap. After con- 
sulting the Engineers, WPA, and CCC, 
Somervell outlined a recapture policy. 
Generally, he would take only late models 
which were in good repair and in which 
the government's equity was 60 percent 
or more. He would capture no item until 
one of the interested agencies had spoken 
for it. The zones would co-ordinate the 
effort, serving as clearinghouses for re- 



300 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



quests and lists of items available, 
refereeing disputes among government 
agencies, and overseeing transfer of titles 
and funds. 115 

Unlooked-for complications soon de- 
veloped. Many pieces of equipment de- 
sired by the government were heavily 
mortgaged and, thus, subject to prior 
liens. Some rental agreements contained 
loopholes which enabled the equipment 
to escape. Some valuations were so in- 
flated that recapture was out of the ques- 
tion. These were relatively simple 
matters. The big headache was with the 
owners. When they learned that their 
equipment would be captured, many 
complained. Some pleaded hardship, 
maintaining that the loss of their equip- 
ment would force them out of business. 
Others, outraged and indignant, quoted 
promises they had received from Quarter- 
master officers that the recapture clause 
would be inoperative. Congressmen and 
AGC officials backed the owners' pro- 
tests. Nevertheless, Somervell refused to 
yield, taking the position that a contract 
was a contract and the owners ought to 
have known that when they signed. 117 

Recapture went forward. By i June 
1 94 1, the Army had taken over 44,554 
items of equipment valued at $ 1 2,890,097. 
By the spring of 1942 the total value of 
captured items had climbed to $30 mil- 
lion; by fall, to $70 million. The Army 
put this equipment to good use in con- 
struction and training and eventually 
shipped the bulk of it overseas for use 



lw (i) Memo, Farrell for Groves, 28 Mar 41. 
Opns Br Files, Rental Equip, (a) Memo, Opns and 
Trg Sec OCE for Supply Sec, 26 Apr 41 . 41 3.8 Part 
9- (3) OQMG Constr Div Ltrs 154, 12 Mar; 248, 
12 May; and 318, 20 Jun 41. EHD Files. 

i"Opns Br Files Rental, Equip; and Equip 1. 



by troops in theaters of operations. 118 
"This actually saved the Army a tre- 
mendous amount of money," said Groves, 
"and enabled it to have equipment which 
it otherwise could not have obtained even 
by throwing a tremendous additional 
burden on the manufacturers of con- 
struction equipment." 119 

Even more challenging than the prob- 
lems of recapture were those of final 
settlement with fixed-fee contractors. As 
the program neared an end, claims piled 
up rapidly. Contractors found many rea- 
sons for asking higher fees. Their projects 
had cost far more than the estimates on 
which their fees were based. They had 
done much work not covered by the 
original contracts and had remained on 
the jobs long past the original completion 
dates. Many had paid out sums for travel, 
entertainment, advertising, telephone 
calls and telegrams, and legal and bank- 
ing services, expecting reimbursement, 
only to have their vouchers disapproved. 
By February 1 941 , requests for ad- 
ditional payments were flooding the 
Legal Section of the Engineering Branch. 
In handling this spate of claims, Major 
Jones, chief of Legal, relied heavily on 
the Contract Board. Established during 
the reorganization of December 1 940 and 
having as its principal function the ne- 
gotiation of contracts, the board con- 
sisted of Loving, who was chairman, 
Tatlow, and Maj. Clyde M. Hadley of 
the Judge Advocate General's Depart- 
ment. Because Loving and Tatlow had 
negotiated most of the contracts, they 



111 ( 1 ) Memo, Somervell for Patterson, 2 1 Jun 
41, (2) Memo, Robins for SOS, 31 Mar 42. Both in 
481 Part 1. (3) 1st Ind, 15 Sep 42, on Memo, SOS 
for GofEngrs, 11 Aug 42. 413.8 Part 13. 

»• Groves Comments, IV, 7. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



301 



were in a particularly good position to 
advise on matters of interpretation and 
intent. 120 

Disputes were many and involved. The 
government had agreed to pay all costs 
of construction except interest and home 
office overhead and to adjust fees when- 
ever there were "material changes" in 
the amount or character of work de- 
scribed in the contract or in the time 
required for performance. Which ex- 
penditures were chargeable to home office 
overhead? Which to the cost of the proj- 
ects? Were some improper and therefore 
nonreimbursable? What constituted a 
material change? Did painting all the 
buildings entitle a contractor to a larger 
fee? Did putting up a few additional 
structures? Could a contractor who had 
accepted the Army's original estimate of 
$i 10,000 for "all necessary utilities" at a 
camp point to the actual cost of Si. 8 
million as evidence of material change? 
These questions and others like them had 
to be resolved to the satisfaction of both 
parties if lawsuits were to be avoided. 

In reaching settlements with the con- 
tractors, Jones had first reference to the 
contract documents and to the laws gov- 
erning emergency agreements. When the 
contracts were vague or the law silent, 
he consulted the Contract Board and 
reviewed the record of negotiations. He 
referred particularly complex questions 
to the Comptroller and Judge Advocate 
Generals for decision. Because the con- 
tracts provided reimbursement for certain 

110 (1) Memo, Jones for Leavey, 6 Feb 41. OCE 
Legal Div, Changes in Provisions and Policies — CPFF 
Contracts. (2) Memo, Birdseye for Patterson, ig 
Feb 41. QM 600.1 (Contracts — Misc) IV. (3) Memo, 
Contract Bd for Jones, 26 Feb 41 . Same File as ( 1 ). 
(4) Memo, Somervell for Patterson, n Apr 41. QM 
600.1 (CPFF) II. 



unspecified items, he paid practically all 
disputed vouchers. Only damages re- 
sulting from a contractor's negligence 
and such obviously improper items as 
entertainment met with disapproval. Be- 
cause Congress had outlawed percentage 
contracts, Jones turned down claimants 
who argued that costs had exceeded orig- 
inal estimates, denying additional fees 
even to contractors who had constructed 
utilities costing many times the figure 
mentioned during negotiations. 121 In ad- 
justing fees to cover material changes in 
the scope of the work and the duration 
of the contract, he generally proceeded 
as if the agreement "as originally negoti- 
ated . . . had included the subject 
change." 142 

As the volume of claims increased, 
Jones urged establishment of a fact-find- 
ing board to assist in settlement of dis- 
putes. On 29 July Somervell informed 
the Under Secretary that the Construc- 
tion Division wished to organize such a 
group but pointed out that the plan de- 
pended upon Patterson's willingness to 
set up a board of appeal. Patterson 
waited four months before taking the 
necessary action. Jones meanwhile was 
receiving about eighty claims each week. 
Finally on 7 November 1941 the Under 
Secretary established the War Depart- 
ment Board of Contract Appeals and 
Adjustments. Three weeks later Gregory 
formed the Contract Settlement Board, 
OQMG. Henceforth claims went to one 

141 (1) Memo, Somervell for Patterson, 18 Mar 41. 
QM 600.1 (CPFF) II. (2) OCE Legal Div Files, 
Instr Relating to FF Contracts, Book I. (3) Memo, 
Leavey for Somervell, 18 Jul 41. OCE Legal Div 
Files, Opinions — Misc. 

111 Ltr, Nurse to CQM Cp Callan, 14 Jan 41. 652 
(Cp Callan) I. See also, Memo, Leavey for Somervell, 
7 Mar 41. OCE Legal Div Files, Change Orders. 



302 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



or the other of these boards. The Con- 
tract Settlement Board had jurisdiction 
over cases involving $50,000 or less; its 
counterpart in Patterson's office handled 
larger claims and heard appeals from 
decisions of the Quartermaster group. 
That most contractors considered the 
boards' decisions fair was evidenced by 
the fact that few went to court to obtain 
additional concessions. 123 

Months and sometimes years went by 
before final settlements were reached with 
camp contractors. Meanwhile, the camps 
were fully operational as Army training 
centers. 

Maintenance and Operation 

With their roads, streets, and rail 
terminals, their water, sewage, and elec- 
tric systems, and their hospitals, laun- 
dries, bakeries, cold storage buildings, 
warehouses, fire stations, post offices, tele- 
phone exchanges, clubs, and theaters, 
the 46 new camps and cantonments re- 
sembled modern cities. There were, in 
all, 700 miles of gaslines, 804 miles of 
railroad tracks and sidings, 1,500 miles 
of sewers, 1,557 miles of roads, 2,000 
miles of water conduits, and 3,500 miles 
of electric cables to keep up at these 
posts. There were nearly 46,000 furnaces, 
boilers, and heaters to fire. There were 
sewage disposal plants with a combined 
daily capacity of 86,729,866 gallons to 



1SS ( 1 ) Memo, Somervell for Patterson, 29 Jun 41. 
QM 334 (Contract Settlement Bd) 1942. (2) Memo, 
Styer for Leavey, 26 Sep 41. OCE Legal Div Files, 
Interpretations of CPFF Contract. (3) OUSW 
Purchases and Contracts Gen Directive 72, 7 Nov 41 . 
(4) OQMG Office Order 273, 28 Nov 41. Last two in 
OCE Legal Div Library, Directives 1940-41. (5) 
Memo, SW, USW, and ASW for CofEngrs, 6 Jan 
42. 3820 (Nat Def) Part 12. (6) OCE Memo 38, 9 
Jan 4a. EHD Files. 



operate; dams with a total capacity of 
4,000 acre-feet to tend; and water tanks 
and reservoirs with a total capacity of 
118,570,600 gallons to maintain. In ad- 
dition there were matters of fire pre- 
vention, pest control, sanitation, and 
housekeeping. Vast though the under- 
taking was, it received little attention 
during 1 940. Occupied fully with getting 
the camps built, Hartman could do little 
in the way of planning how to run them 
later on. 124 

In December 1 940, finding the Repairs 
and Utilities Section almost totally un- 
prepared to operate soon-to-be-completed 
camps, Somervell swung into action. 
Money was the first consideration. Total- 
ing approximately $60 million, the sums 
so far appropriated were inadequate for 
the purpose. On 20 December Somervell 
asked Groves to prepare new estimates; 
by mid-January the battle for funds was 
under way. The second need was for 
equipment. Plans took shape for trans- 
ferring recaptured equipment to main- 
tenance crews. The third requirement, 
competent administrators, would be most 
difficult to fill. Experienced officers could 
not be spared for maintenance assign- 
ments at all the big new posts. 125 

Early in January Somervell hit upon 
the idea of calling in city managers. On 
the 8th he wrote to Groves: "I talked 
this thing over last night with Mr. Loving 
and he seemed to think there are many 
such people we can get . . . , people 
who are tops in their professions." 126 A 

1M (1 ) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40- Jul 41, 
pp. 21-24. (2) OCE Office Dir Mil Constr R&U 
Div, History of Repairs and Utilities, 1939- 1945, P- 
10. Cited hereinafter as Hist of R&U, 1939-1945. 

125 ( 1 ) Min Constr Div Staff Mtg, 20 Dec 40. EHD 
Files. (2) See | p. 278J above. 

124 Memo, Somervell for Groves, 8 Jan 41 , Opns 
Br Files, Camps and Cantons (M&O). 




Aerial View of Camp Jackson, South Carolina 



short time later he got in touch with 
Col. Clarence O. Sherrill, who had re- 
signed from the Corps of Engineers in 
1926 to become city manager of Cin- 
cinnati, a post he still held. Sherrill 
agreed to round up experienced city 
managers and city engineers who would 
be willing to serve as majors and lieu- 
tenant colonels in the Quartermaster 
Corps. These men would become utilities 
officers on the staffs of corps area and 
post quartermasters. Sherrill made rapid 
progress. "We have got a surprising num- 
ber of acceptances," he told Groves on 
28 January. "We will be ready in a few 



days." 127 With this assurance Somervell 
prepared to tell the corps areas that city 
managers were on the way. 

The news broke on the 29th, when 
Groves announced to a meeting of corps 
area quartermasters: "These camps are 
big cities, and . . we should have 
commissioned City Managers and City 
Engineers, who have managerial ca- 
pacity." Fifty such officers would soon 
be available, and, said Groves: "We 
realize that when we send them out, that 
under present regulations, Post Com- 

127 Tel Conv, Groves and Sherrill, 28 Jan 41. Opns 
Br Files, Camps and Cantons (M&O). 



304 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



manders or Post Quartermasters decide 
which Officer will be the Utility Officer, 
but we expect that when an experienced 
man of this character is sent there that 
he will be used for that purpose." This 
announcement brought a flurry of excite- 
ment. Brig. Gen. James L. Frink of the 
Fourth Corps Area was on his feet im- 
mediately. "Regardless of rank?" he ex- 
claimed. Groves replied that the new 
men would be junior to the post quarter- 
masters. In a moment Frink was back: 
"It should be thoroughly understood that, 
when these boys come down in the Fourth 
Corps Area, I am the boss." Several 
other corps area quartermasters ques- 
tioned whether men used to dealing with 
city politicians would "play the game 
the military way." At this point Somer- 
vell joined the discussion. "I do not know 
how much experience any of you have 
had in politics," he said, "but I have 
been exposed to. it for a considerable 
period of time, and if you can get along 
with a bunch of politicians — well, getting 
along with a bunch of Army officers is 
just 'duck soup'." After giving the as- 
sembled officers a few facts of political 
life, he went on to remonstrate: "Now, 
I gathered from what General Frink said 
that we were trying to ram something 
down your throats. Quite the contrary. 
What we are trying to do is to get the 
best people we can find in these United 
States to do that job for you." At the 
end, the corps area men seemed molli- 
fied. 128 The following day Groves wrote 
Sherrill that the corps area people were 
"unanimous in their approval and ap- 
preciation of the plan." 129 



al Min, Conf of Corps Area QM's, 07-29 Jan 41, 
pp. 88-93. EHD Files. 

m Ltr, Groves to Sherrill, 30 Jan 41 . Opns Br 
Files, Camps and Cantons (M&O). 



Meanwhile, on 23 January, the new 
head of Repairs and Utilities, George F. 
Lewis, had arrived on the scene. Son of 
the inventor of the Lewis machinegun, 
he was a 191 4 West Point graduate, a 
classmate of Somervell. Commissioned in 
the Corps of Engineers, he had served 
with the Punitive Expedition into Mexico 
and with the First Division in France. 
Resigning from the Army in 191 9, he 
afterward held positions as vice president 
and treasurer of the Anderson Rolled 
Gear Company; president and treasurer 
of Foote, Pierson and Company, Inc.; 
town commissioner and public safety di- 
rector of Montclair, New Jersey; and 
managing engineer of the J. G. White 
Engineering Corporation. With his mili- 
tary background and his wide experience 
in management, engineering, and con- 
struction, Lewis was particularly well 
qualified for the job of reorganizing the 
Army's repairs and utilities work. 

While awaiting appointment as a lieu- 
tenant colonel in the Quartermaster 
Corps, Lewis looked into the existing 
setup. He found that repairs and utilities 
was commonly regarded as one of the 
worst headaches in the Army. Although 
The Quartermaster General was legally 
responsible for all post maintenance, suc- 
cessive Chiefs of Staff had insisted that 
commanders on the ground have com- 
plete control. As a result authority vested 
in the corps areas, and post quarter- 
masters took their orders from station 
commanders. Diverting maintenance 
funds to pet projects of local military 
authorities was an almost universal prac- 
tice. Because few enlisted specialists were 
available and funds were seldom suffi- 
cient for hiring civilians, post quarter- 
masters had to draw men from the line. 
Gunners helped run sewage plants, in- 



COMPLETING THE GAMPS 



305 



fantrymen fired furnaces, and tankers 
patched roofs and improved roads. Lewis 
noted other weaknesses. Budgetary con- 
trols were lax and spending was un- 
scientific. There were no uniform pro- 
cedures of cost accounting, stock control, 
or work load measurement; no regular 
inspections and reports; and no system- 
atic studies of personnel utilization. Tech- 
nical manuals and bulletins were few and 
out of date. Complicating the mainte- 
nance task were the temporary character 
of the new camps and die speed of con- 
struction. Already, some roofs were leak- 
ing and some floors were beginning to 
warp. lM 

One of Lewis' first assignments was to 
work with Groves on the city manager 
proposition. Unlooked-for complications 
endangered the plan. Word that city 
officials would receive direct commissions 
prompted inquiries from congressmen. 
Candidates appeared whose chief recom- 
mendation was political backing. Groves 
made it clear that there would be no 
patronage appointments. He told one 
congressman that the choice of city man- 
agers was up to Sherrill. He informed 
another that no commissions were avail- 
able. 111 Finally, he adopted a standard 
reply: "We're anxious to get men who 
are city manager experienced, and these 
men aren't, that's all." 1,4 A more serious 
difficulty arose when Sherrill submitted 
his recommendations. Somervell had 

1.0 (i ) Extracts from Col Lewis' Diary, 1941. OCE 
R&U Div Files, Org— Utilities Sec. (a) Hist of R&U, 
1 939-45. 

1.1 (r) Ltr, Groves to Rep Doughton, 4 Feb 41. 
Qpns Br Files, Camps and Cantons. (2) Tel Conv, 
Groves and Rep McCormack's Secy, 7 Mar 41 . Opns 
Br Files, Camps and Cantons (M&O). (3) Memo, 
Farrell for Groves* a6 Mar 41. Opns Br Files, Maj 
Shepherd. 

la Tel Conv, Groves and Mr. Gale, WD, 1 3 May 
41 . Opns Br Files, Camps and Cantons. 



asked for men who had successfully 
managed cities of at least forty or fifty 
thousand. Sherrill's list named many who 
did not fill the bill. One man, recom- 
mended for the rank of lieutenant colonel, 
had managed a town of 4,700 since 1921 ; 
another candidate for a lieutenant 
colonelcy had once run a town of 10,000 
but had been out of work since 1934. 
Somervell let Sherrill know that he was 
"quite surprised to learn that so many of 
the individuals recommended were not 
in fact eminently successful in private 
life." 133 Only fifteen of the fifty men 
Sherrill had named seemed qualified for 
commissions. Lewis regarded Sherrill's 
effort as a failure. 184 "We were," said 
Groves, "possibly a bit misled by Colonel 
Sherrill's initial optimism." 135 

While reviewing applications for- 
warded by Sherrill, Lewis combed the 
Army Reserve lists. For days he worked 
in the Military Personnel Branch of 
Gregory's office, studying the files. His 
efforts were rewarding, for he turned up 
thirty-three likely prospects, among them 
the city manager of Dallas, Texas, the 
city engineers of Elyria, Ohio, and 
Mamaroneck, New York, and the chief 
public works engineer of St. Paul, Minne- 
sota. There were also engineers and offi- 
cials of telephone and electric companies. 
Called to active duty early in March, 
these Reservists went to the new camps 
and cantonments and to Repairs and 
Utilities Branches in the zones. 136 Pleased 
with their performance, Lewis later 

151 Ltr, Somervell to Sherrill, 27 Mar 41. Opns Br 
Files, Corresp (Gen). 

154 (1) Memo, Groves for Somervell, 5 Mar 41. 
Opns Br Files, Personnel. (2) Ltr, Lewis to OCMH, 8 
Mar 55. 

u « Groves Comments, VI, 8. 

ut Memo, Groves for Somervell, 5 Mar 41. Opns 
Br Files, Personnel. 



306 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



wrote: "Our Army was dependent on our 
reserve and National Guard forces for 
trained and skilled personnel and they 
should be given credit for the fine ma- 
terial they supplied." 137 

After receiving his commission on 1 1 
February, Lewis concentrated on plans 
for reorganizing the Army's maintenance 
system. For the next few weeks his cal- 
endar was crowded with appointments. 
He called on William H. Harrison in 
the new Office of Production Manage- 
ment and on Comdr. Thomas S. Combs 
in the Bureau of Yards and Docks. He 
consulted two vice presidents of the 
Western Union Telegraph Company and 
the works manager of Standard Oil of 
New Jersey. He talked matters over with 
members of G-4, the Bureau of the Bud- 
get, and OQMG. After studying other 
maintenance setups, in both industry and 
government, Lewis took a closer look at 
his own. By early March he was ready 
to offer Somervell some concrete sug- 
gestions. 138 

Lewis proposed to bring all repairs and 
utilities under Construction Division con- 
trol. Post utilities officers would be ap- 
pointed and relieved, not by the corps 
area commanders, but by The Quarter- 
master General. The supervisory func- 
tions exercised by the corps area quarter- 
masters would be transferred to the zones. 
Estimates would be prepared by post 
utilities officers and zone Constructing 
Quartermasters. Corps area and station 
commanders could concur or comment 
on these estimates but could not dis- 
approve them. The bulk of the funds 
appropriated for maintenance would be 



Ltr, Lewis to OCMH, 8 Mar 55. 
Extracts from Col Lewis' Diary, 1941. 



allotted by The Quartermaster General 
directly to the post utilities officers. The 
meaning of Lewis' proposal was clear — 
local commanders would lose their 
power. 139 If the plan was logical, it was 
also revolutionary. 

Opposition was not long in forming. 
Among the first to resist was Gregory's 
deputy, Brig. Gen. Frank F. Scowden, 
Believing maintenance should remain un- 
der post quartermasters, Scowden pigeon- 
holed the plan. 140 When Groves at length 
went over Scowden's head, he found 
Gregory "fully in sympathy" with Lewis' 
proposal. Gregory agreed to recommend 
the change, but he reminded Somervell 
that corps area commanders had always 
shown "great interest in the expenditure 
of repair and maintenance funds." Per- 
haps, he said optimistically, the com- 
manders now had "so many other prob- 
lems that they may be glad to get rid of 
this one," 141 Gregory's hopes were short 
lived. Word of the plan reached the corps 
areas before it reached the General Staff. 
On 1 May the commanding general of 
the Fourth Corps Area asked General 
Marshall for a hearing. 142 In reply Mar- 
shall pointed out that Gregory had as 
yet made no proposal but promised that 
"all factors will be considered before any 
change is made." 143 The Construction 
Division had a fight on its hands. 

On 9 May Gregory formally presented 

138 (1) Ibid. (2) Ltr, Gregory to TAG, 9 May 41, 
and Incl, Draft of Proposed Revision of AR 30-1 760. 
G-4/33028. 

140 Extracts from Col Lewis' Diary, 1941. 

111 Memo, Gregory for Somervell, 16 Apr 41. QM 
600.3 (Misc) 1935. 

145 Memo, Reybold for Marshall, 8 May 41. G- 

4/33445-> • 

143 Ltr, Marshall to CG Fourth Corps Area, 15 
May 41. G-4/33445-1. 



COMPLETING THE CAMPS 



307 



his recommendations to the General Staff. 
He cast his plea for their acceptance in 
compelling terms. "There is little doubt," 
he wrote, "but that the efficient and 
economical operation and maintenance 
of posts and stations in the expanded 
Army will be seriously impaired if these 
recommended changes are not made 
promptly." 144 Gregory's letter went to 
G— 4, where the task of reviewing it fell 
to Colonel Chamberlin, who was acting 
in General Reybold's absence. Chamber- 
lin's reaction was unfavorable. He saw 
the advantages of letting The Quarter- 
master General furnish expert personnel 
but balked at curbing the powers of local 
commanders. As he saw it, the question 
was whether command or staff ought to 
exercise authority. The answer was im- 
plicit in his recommendations. The 
Quartermaster General should redraw 
his proposal. Local commanders should 
retain their authority. Corps area com- 
manders should be consulted before any 
change was made. General Marshall con- 
curred. 146 Somervell had lost the first 
round. 

The Quartermaster forces were not 
ready to admit defeat. Late in May 
Groves and Lewis undertook missionary 
work among members of the General 
Staff. On 12 June Somervell and General 
Moore framed a compromise plan. 148 
Under it, The Quartermaster General 
would assign utilities officers to the posts; 
the zones would take over the mainte- 



141 Ltr, Gregory to TAG, 9 May 41. G-4/33028. 

116 (1) Memo, Chamberlin for Moore, 22 May 41. 
(2) Memo, Chamberlin for Marshall, 29 May 41. 
Both in G— 4/33028. (3) 1st Ind AG 600.1 (5-9-41) 
PC, 7 Jun 41, on Ltr, Gregory to TAG, 9 May 41. 
QM 600.3 (Misc) 1935. 

146 Extracts from Col Lewis' Diary, 1941. 



nance duties of the corps areas. At the 
same time, local military authorities 
would retain a measure of control, for 
utilities officers would report to station 
commanders and zone Constructing 
Quartermasters would be responsible for 
repairs and utilities to corps area com- 
manders. General Marshall accepted the 
compromise and ordered a new regu- 
lation printed. With its publication on 
23 June, Lewis assumed full control of 
the technical end of repairs and utilities. 
Commanders still had final say as to 
what jobs to do and when, but the Con- 
struction Division decided how. 147 

The new arrangement enabled Lewis 
to replace the old housekeeping service 
with a vigorous and effective manage- 
ment organization. Specialization, mod- 
ernization, and standardization were key- 
notes of his policy. Engineers, scientists, 
and trained mechanics took over oper- 
ation of the Army's physical plant. Lewis' 
own staff included such experts as Jean 
L. Vincenz, commissioner of Public 
Works and City Engineer of Fresno, 
California, and Louis C. McCabe of the 
Illinois Geological Survey, an authority 
on solid fuels. Through an intensive re- 
cruiting drive, he obtained qualified men 
for key field positions from utility com- 
panies, municipalities, and universities. 
A countrywide training program offered 
instruction in fire fighting, plumbing, 
sewage plant operation, and many other 
specialties. Introduction of up-to-date 
management techniques — quarterly bud- 
gets, cost accounting, work order systems, 
and the like — eliminated guesswork and 
placed the maintenance operation on a 
business basis. Monthly reports and fre- 



M ' WD Circ iai, Sec 1, 23 Jun 41. 



308 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



quent inspections were helpful in de- 
termining norms and computing require- 
ments. Books, manuals, and information 
bulletins established standard procedures 
and kept everyone abreast of develop- 
ments. By late summer Repairs and 
Utilities was a progressive, smooth- 



running organization and a source of 
pride to Somervell and his officers. 148 

To build the camps and provide for 
maintaining them properly had taken 
about one year. 



HUtofR&U, 1939-45, passim. 



CHAPTER IX 



Creating a Munitions Industry 



Perhaps the most vital part of the vast 
national defense effort in which the United 
States is engaged is the supplying of weapons 
and ammunitions to its armed forces. This 
is so because these items, not being among 
the commercial products of industry, require 
a relatively long time to produce in the quan- 
tities essential to a major defense effort. At 
present men can be trained more rapidly 
than munitions can be provided. 

Thus William H. Harrison reminded the 
National Defense Advisory Commission 
of the disparity between manpower and 
munitions in November 1940. 1 As shelter 
became available and the strength of 
the Army increased, the disparity grew. 
Men inadequately armed were a weak 
defense. Not until new government- 
owned munitions plants were in produc- 
tion could mobilization be effective. 
Anxiety over camps and cantonments 
for a time pushed munitions projects 
from the forefront of attention, but this 
seeming indifference to industrial pre- 
paredness did not long continue. As 
American involvement in global war be- 
came an unmistakable probability, ar- 
senals, plants, and depots became objects 
of deep concern. 

Before the first "goldfish bowl" draw- 
ing for the draft on 16 October 1940, 
Congress had voted nearly $750 million 
for "expediting production." Not all of 
this money was for plants to manufac- 

1 Rpt, Constr Sec NDAC, 1 Nov 40, sub: Mun 
Plant Constr — U.S. Army. Madigan Files, 101.7 
Mun Plant Constr. 



ture explosives, ammunition, tanks, and 
guns. Indeed, well over a third was for 
aircraft factories. Because the sums for 
expediting production of critical items 
of equipment for the ground forces ap- 
peared inadequate, the War Department 
drew on moneys appropriated for other 
purposes. The largest supplement came 
from Ordnance procurement funds. By 
late October, the Army had allotted 
roughly $700 million for constructing and 
equipping new facilities to make and 
store munitions. 2 

Although broad aims had been agreed 
upon in June 1940, defining the muni- 
tions program in terms of plants, their 
number, type, and size, consumed many 
months. Resolving military plans into 
"specific items of munitions," hard 
enough at any time, was particularly 
so in 1940. The fact that the 30 June 
munitions program was based on a 
figure of two million men, instead of 
four million as in the Protective Mo- 
bilization Plan, forced major readjust- 
ments in plans of the using services. 8 
Frequent changes in the Army's organi- 
zation, mobilization rate, and opera- 
tional plans made necessary further ad- 
justments. Job directives appeared inter- 
mittently during the latter half of 1 940, 

* (1) Ibid, (a) Rpt, OUSW, 34 Jan 41, sub: Sum- 
mary of Constr Program for Manufacturing Facils. 
USW Ping Div, 600.1 — 134 Constr (1 Jun 40-35 
Mar 41 ). 

'Memo, OCofOrd for OUSW, a6 May 41. USW 
Files, Legis — H and S Investigating Comm 1. 



310 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



but not until February 1941 did the 
first munitions plant program take final 
form. By that time the Army had under 
way 34 manufacturing facilities, 29 for 
the Ordnance Department and the re- 
mainder for the Chemical Warfare Serv- 
ice. Included were 5 shell loading plants, 
3 small arms ammunition plants, 3 ex- 
plosives plants, and 2 anhydrous am- 
monia plants, as well as facilities for 
turning out tanks, shells, armor plate, 
toluol, charcoal-whetlerite, and Mi rifles 
and factories for making and bagging 
smokeless powder. Generally known as 
the "first wave plants," these facilities 
were to have stand-by status after the 
emergency. Together with proving 
grounds and depots to test and store end- 
products, they constituted a minimum 
requirement for defense. 4 

Status of the Program — December ig^o 

When Somervell succeeded Hartman 
on 1 1 December 1 940, one munitions 
project, a bomb loading plant at the Sa- 
vanna Ordnance Depot, was complete 
and construction was under way at 16 
others — new manufacturing facilities and 
expansions of old-line arsenals. Detailed 
surveys were going forward at sites for 
3 ammunition storage depots. Contracts 
had recently been let for 2 more plants 
and a proving ground and contractors 
nominated for 4 additional plants. De- 
spite its somewhat mixed record in other 
areas, the division's conduct of industrial 
work was generally rated good. Hartman 
had taken an average of twenty-three 
days to translate directives into contracts 
and an average of eighteen days to get 

4 ( 1 ) Harry C. Thomson and Lida Mayo, The 
Ordnance Department: Procurement and Supply, UNITED 
STATES ARMY IN WORLD WAR II (Wash- 
ington, i960), pp. 45-59. (2) Ltr, OCofOrd to USW, 
9 Jun 41. Ord 675/9233-Misc. 



construction started after contracts were 
signed. Considering all he had to contend 
with — the frequent changes in capacity, 
design, and location of plants, the com- 
plexity of negotiations, and the magni- 
tude of the jobs — this was a creditable 
achievement. Projects, once begun, made 
fairly steady progress. Most were due 
for completion in the summer or fall of 
1 94 1, which left a reasonably com- 
fortable margin of time. 5 On 29 Novem- 
ber Harrison reported to Knudsen: 
"The longer term projects (munitions, 
Quartermaster depots, etc.) generally 
are in good shape." 6 

Although munitions projects did not 
present him with a crisis in the sense 
that camps and cantonments did, the 
status of the industrial program caused 
the new Chief of Construction some mis- 
givings. To be sure, going projects ap- 
peared to be more or less on schedule 
and several jobs were well ahead. Never- 
theless, there were signs of trouble. Con- 
tracts were pending for 13 directed proj- 
ects: 4 ammunition storage depots, 3 
Chemical Warfare plants, 2 shell loading 
plants, 2 bag loading plants, 1 small arms 
ammunition factory, and 1 explosives 
works. Orders for 9 of these jobs dated 
from November, two from October, 
and two from September. Seven more 
directives were in the offing, but no one 
could tell how soon they would appear. 
At plant as well as at camp projects, 
overruns were becoming common. More- 
over, two important questions remained 
unanswered: precisely how much pro- 
duction capacity would be needed, and 
when. While directing most of his ef- 



Constr Div Progress Charts and Rpts. EHD 
Files. (2) Rpt, Activities of Constr Div, Jul 40- Jul 
41, pp. 196-238. 

6 Memo, Harrison for Knudsen, 29 Nov 40. 
WPB-PD File, 41 1.33 Constr Projs — Mil, Jun 40-41. 



CREATING A MUNITIONS INDUSTRY 



311 



forts to more immediate problems, 
Somervell gave the munitions program 
considerable thought and study. 

He quickly identified the source of 
some of the trouble. In his initial report 
to General Gregory on 9 December, he 
noted that "the number of agencies in- 
volved" in the munitions program had 
"introduced complications." Too many 
discordant voices were calling the tune. 
As a result, confusion attended site 
selection, planning, design, and super- 
vision. While agreeing that the using 
services "must, of course, be consulted," 
Somervell wished to streamline pro- 
cedures and expedite decisions; and he 
felt the Construction Division ought to 
have a larger role. 7 As he probed more 
deeply into the workings of the program, 
he found little reason for altering these 
views. 

Disputes over plant locations were 
delaying the start of several Ordnance 
projects. One such dispute involved the 
second anhydrous ammonia plant. In 
October Ordnance and its operator, the 
Allied Chemical and Dye Corporation, 
had proposed a site near South Point, 
Ohio. But Commissioners Davis and 
Hillman of NDAC held out for another 
location, near the depressed community 
of Carbondale, Illinois. When Somervell 
joined Gregory in December, the issue 
was deadlocked. Similar disagreements 
were blocking construction of the New 
River and Hoosier bag loading plants and 
the Plum Brook explosives works. 8 The 
delays seemed likely to continue. At a 
meeting of the Advisory Commission 

1 Memo, Somervell for Gregory, g Dec 40. EHD 
Files. 

8 (i) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc Facil for 
Rutherford, 22 Oct 40. Ord 675/1 202 (Ohio River 
OW- Misc). (2) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc 
Facil for Rutherford, 22 Nov 40. Ord 675/1636 
(Misc). (3) Minutes of the NDAC, pp. 120-30. 



early in December, Davis said, "It was 
possible undue emphasis was given in 
making these recommendations to the 
wishes of industrial management com- 
pared with other factors which appear 
important to the Commission." 9 Ord- 
nance took a different view. "The Coun- 
try was faced with war," General 
Campbell afterward explained. "Ord- 
nance was responsible for getting muni- 
tions in the hands of troops in sufficient 
quantity and on time. No one else was." 10 
Not a party to decisions affecting plant 
locations, the Construction Division could 
only wait until Ordnance and NDAC 
composed their differences. 

Further examples of snags which de- 
layed commencement of construction 
were offered by the small arms ammuni- 
tion plants — the most notable laggards 
among Ordnance projects. The decision 
to build three such plants came early 
in October 1940. Hartman succeeded 
in awarding the construction contract 
for one of them, the Lake City Ordnance 
Plant at Kansas City, Missouri, late in 
November; construction began two days 
after SomervelJ took over. Earlier, though, 
the directive for this contract had waited 
for more than five weeks, while Ordnance 
reviewed planned capacity and site boun- 
daries. 11 The division was involved to a 
degree in delays at the second project, 
the St. Louis Ordnance Plant. Nego- 
tiations with the two firms selected to 
act as joint venturers, the Fruin-Colnon 
Contracting Company and the Massman 



' Minutes of the NDAC, p. 120. 

10 Comments of Gen Campbell on Constr MS, VIII, 
52. 

11 ( 1 ) Memo, Reybold for Patterson, 3 Oct 40. 
G-4/38773. (2) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc 
Facil for Rutherford, 20 Sep 40. (3) Memo, OASVV, 
Ping Br for CofOrd, 26 Oct 40. Both in Ord 675/643 
(Misc). (4) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc Facil 
for Hartman, rg Oct 40. 635 (Lake City OP) I, 



312 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Construction Company, were complete 
by 1 1 December. Somervell started to 
submit the contract to NDAC the next 
day but ran into a storm of political 
protest. He stuck to his guns and finally, 
on 30 December, secured Knudsen's 
permission to put through the deal with 
Fruin-Colnon and Massman. 12 A site for 
the third small arms ammunition plant 
was not finally chosen until mid-Decem- 
ber. Ordnance had originally considered 
building this plant near Atlanta or in the 
Tennessee Valley, but by late November 
had decided in favor of Denver. The 
President approved the Denver site on 
18 December and Ordnance promptly 
issued the directive. But even then, un- 
certainty as to the scope of the project 
threatened to hold up negotiations for 
some time." 

Visiting the plant sites, Somervell 
noted a source of potential, if not actual, 
delay — blurred lines of authority. Early 
in the program Hartman had had to 
yield in matters concerning supervision 
of construction. Short of experienced 
Quartermaster officers, he had let Ord- 
nance take charge of building operations 
at a number of key jobs. At four of the 
first major projects, Indiana, Radford, 
Elwood, and Baytown, the commanding 
officer, a representative of the Ordnance 
Department, also served as Constructing 

u { 1 ) Memo, Loving for Hartman, 1 1 Dec 40. EHD 
Files, (a) Memo, Gregory for SomerveLI, 13 Dec 40. 
635 (St. Louis OP) I. (3) Memo, Constr Adv Comm 
for Somervell, rg Dec 40. (4) Memo, Somervell for 
Knudsen, 28 Dec 40, and approval thereon. Last three 
in 635 (St. Louis OP) I. 

u (i) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc Facil for 
Hartman, 1 9 Oct 40. QM 095 (Remington Arms Co. ). 
(a) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc Facil for Ruther- 
ford, 25 Nov 40. Ord 675/1647 (Denver OP — Misc). 
(3) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc Facil for Somer- 
vell, 18 Dec 40. 635 (Denver OP) I. (4) Memo, 
OCofOrd Industrial Svc Facil for Somervell, a 1 Jan 
41. Ord 675/2911 (Misc). 



Quartermaster. At Kankakee, the first 
TNT plant, and at Ravenna, one of the 
early shell loaders, the Constructing 
Quartermasters were Ordnance officers 
junior to the commanding officers. At 
eleven other projects, the CQM's were 
Hartman's men — long-time Regulars like 
Colonel McFadden at Springfield Ar- 
mory; West Point careerists like Capt. 
Joseph E. Gill at the Savanna Ordnance 
Depot; and outstanding Reservists like 
Maj. Harry R. Kadlec at the Detroit 
Tank Arsenal. These men were capable 
administrators, but competence was not 
always the deciding factor in determining 
who would boss construction. At most 
projects Ordnance representatives out- 
ranked Hartman's officers. 14 

Neither practice nor results were uni- 
form. In October the Hercules Powder 
Company had complained that the Ord- 
nance officer at Radford "did not have 
sufficient authority or experience to make 
decisions on minor matters without 
referring to Washington or Wilming- 
ton." 15 After touring the projects, 
Somervell reported that the officer at 
Elwood "has apparently attempted to 
'command' the Architects and Engineers 
who know more about construction than 
he will ever know." By contrast, he found 
the Indiana job "operating in a highly 
satisfactory way." But even where work 
was proceeding smoothly, the situation 
was far from ideal. The Reserve major 
sent by Hartman to Picatinny Arsenal 
could hardly be expected to question the 
wisdom of the commanding officer, a 
brigadier general whose service in the 



14 Data compiled from EHD Files, Industrial- 
Projs. 

15 Memo, OASW, E. B. Isaak, for Madigan, 23 
Oct 40. Madigan Files, Radford, Va., Smokeless 
Powder Plant. 



CREATING A MUNITIONS INDUSTRY 



313 



Regular Army dated back to 1901. Ord- 
nance officers on duty as Construct- 
ing Quartermasters, however well-inten- 
tioned, found it difficult to serve two 
masters. When these men had to choose 
between enforcing Construction Di- 
vision policy and preserving what the 
Ordnance Department regarded as its 
prerogatives, their older loyalty often 
proved the stronger. 1 * 

Costs presented another dreary pic- 
ture. At project after project, original 
estimates were turning out to be low. 
When Hercules signed the prime con- 
tract on 16 August 1940, the estimated 
cost of building the Radford plant and 
of operating it for one year was $25 mil- 
lion. Less than three months later the 
figure had risen to $40 million. A partial 
explanation lay in an additional line. 
Similarly, at the Indiana plant the num- 
ber of lines doubled within three and 
tripled within five months of the signing 
of the contract. 17 By December General 
Campbell saw that many of the original 
estimates, made when "limited infor- 
mation was available," would "prove to 
have been greatly below" actual costs. 18 

Despite their various ailments, muni- 
tions projects received only inciden- 
tal therapy in the weeks following 
Somervell's appointment. Reorganiza- 
tion of the division wrought but one 
significant change in the groups con- 
cerned with industrial construction — the 
placing of all field operations under 



11 Memo, Somervell for Gregory, 9 Dec 40. 

"(1) Memo, OCofOrd Industrial Svc Facil for 
Knudsen, 1 Aug 40. Ord 675/1 ig (Radford — Misc). 
(a) Compl Rpt, Radford OW, 1940-43, Introd. (3) 
Memo, OCofOrd for ASW, a Nov 40. Ord 675/1335 
(Radford— Misc). (4) Compl Rpt, Indiana OW, 6 
Nov 42, pp. 2-3. 

11 Memo, Campbell for Groves, 13 Dec 40. QM 
635 (Shops, Ord Repairs) 1940. 




Frank R. Creedon 



Frank R. Creedon and his principal 
assistants, William E. O'Brien, William 
K. Maher, Otto F. Sieder, and George 
F. Widmyer. Minutes of Somervell's 
staff conferences made but passing men- 
tion of the Ordnance and Chemical 
Warfare programs. Relations with Ord- 
nance took on an easy-going air, which 
seemed to belie the differences between 
the two services, but which really pro- 
ceeded from the fact that Somervell was 
preoccupied with other issues. But prob- 
lems overshadowed were not solved any 
more than decisions deferred were per- 
manently avoided. 

Dollars Versus Days 

While the spotlight focused on camps 
and cantonments, Campbell and Groves 
were uneasy about the progress of in- 
dustrial preparedness. As the heads of 
the Ordnance Department's Industrial 
Service, Facilities, and the Construction 



314 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



Division's Operations Branch, they bore 
a heavy responsibility for the munitions 
plant program, a responsibility they 
keenly felt. Telephoning Groves on 10 
December 1940, General Campbell said: 
"Two guys are going to hold the bag, 
Campbell and Groves. You won't have 
the plants ready. I can't make TNT until 
the Quartermaster gives me the plant." 
Groves mentioned one solution, to put 
the projects on a three-shift basis. "It is 
going to cost money," he told Campbell, 
"and if anybody doesn't like it after we 
have started, we say, 'What are you 
going to do about it?' " 19 The problem, 
both men recognized, was not that 
simple. Funds were short and goals un- 
certain. Unless money was available and 
its spending could be justified, wholesale 
use of crash methods was out of the 
question. 

On 13 December Campbell asked 
Groves to find out how much the muni- 
tions projects were actually going to cost. 
By making financial arrangements "with- 
out delay to take care of any shortages," 
Ordnance hoped to avoid "showing large 
deficits upon completion of plants." Com- 
plying with Campbell's request, Groves 
directed Constructing Quartermasters at 
all Ordnance projects to submit revised 
estimates of cost. The results were soon 
apparent. Ordnance projects would show 
deficits totaling about $100 million. 20 

Meanwhile, Groves and Somervell had 
appealed to Ordnance for firm comple- 



l * Tel Conv, Campbell and Groves, i o Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Ord. 

40 ( 1 ) Memo, Campbell for Groves, 1 3 Dec 40. 
(a) Memo, Groves for Campbell, 17 Dec 40. Both in 
QM 635 (Shops, Ord Repair) 1940. (3) OUSW, 
Summary of Constr Program for Manufacturing 
Facils (Rev 34 Jan 41). USW Files, Prodn Div 
600.1-134 Constr (1 Jun 40-23 Mar 41). (4) Min, 
Mtg in Harris' Office, 5 Feb 41 . 



tion dates. The deadlines originally an- 
nounced were seldom final or exact. 
Some were set forth in general terms. The 
expectation was that the Iowa and Kings- 
bury shell loading plants would take 
about ten months to build; the Lake 
City small arms ammunition plant, about 
one year. Other completion dates, giving 
month and day, changed again and 
again, sometimes drastically. 21 Not know- 
ing how fast to proceed or how heavily to 
spend, Somervell in mid-December ap- 
pealed to the Chief of Ordnance for 
"honest-to-God" completion dates. Gen- 
eral Wesson turned the request over to 
Col. Francis H. Miles, Jr., of the Am- 
munition Division, giving him ten days 
to prepare an answer. Miles' was no easy 
assignment, since completion hinged on 
deliveries of processing machinery. As 
Campbell put it, "No use having the 
buildings when we have no equipment." 22 
It was still too early to know when de- 
liveries might come through, so in the 
end, Wesson had to put Somervell off. 
On 23 December, he set dates for partial 
completion of three plants. One line at 
Radford was to be ready on 15 March; 
two lines at Indiana, on 1 April; and 
three lines at Kankakee, on 1 July. 
Wesson promised to have dates for all 
the plants on 1 March. Until then, he 
asked Somervell to continue building on 
a single-shift no overtime basis at all 
projects except Indiana, Radford, and 
Kankakee. 23 

ai Table compiled in EHD from Constr Progr 
Rpts and corresp files, Completion Dates and 
Progress— Ord Plants. EHD Files. Cited hereinafter 
as Table, EHD, Compl Dates and Progr — Ord 
Plants. 

"Tel Conv, Groves and Campbell, 17 Dec 40. 
Opns Br Files, Ord. 

M ( 1 ) Memo, Somervell for Styer, a6 Dec 40. Opns 
Br Files, Ord Projs. (2) Memo, Somervell for Patter- 
son, 29 Apr 41. QM 635 (Ammo Plants) 1941. 



CREATING A MUNITIONS INDUSTRY 



315 




Construction Under Way at Indiana Ordnance Works, 1940. 



Wesson's choice of these three plants 
reflected the critical shortage of smoke- 
less powder. The output of the single 
line at Radford would enable Frankford 
Arsenal, the Army's sole small arms am- 
munition factory, to increase production 
markedly. The two lines at Indiana 
would turn out twice as much cannon 
and small arms powder as the whole 
country had manufactured in 1940. But 
production of smokeless powder de- 
pended on the supply of DNT, one of 
its components. When it became ap- 
parent that commercial sources would 
not yield enough of this explosive to 
permit the lines at Radford and Indiana 
to operate at capacity, Ordnance focused 



its attention on Kankakee. 24 Campbell 
asked Groves to urge the contractor, 
Stone & Webster, to bend every effort 
toward completing one DNT line "at 
the earliest possible moment." 26 That 
the first rush order covered only three 
plants in no way reduced its importance. 

Indiana and Radford presented little 
difficulty. Begun in September 1940, 
both were healthy projects and gave 
promise of meeting their deadlines. 
Creedon took nothing for granted, how- 



81 ( 1 ) Memo, Campbell for Somervell, 28 Dec 40. 
635 (Radford OW) I. (2) Compl Rpt, Indiana OW, 
6 Nov 42, p. 5. EHD Files. 

"Memo, Campbell for Groves, 20 Dec 40. Ord 
675/2218 (Misc). 



316 



CONSTRUCTION IN THE UNITED STATES 



ever, stating only that the jobs would 
be ready on time if everything went